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February 22, 2017

Freo PermiesFebruary meeting minutes

Attending-  June, Dave, Jodie, Ruth, Matt, May-Ring, Jakki, Elizabeth. Apologies from Fiona, George, Dan, Renay, and Olga. AGM- So tonight was scheduled to be our combined monthly meeting for February and AGM, however as not enough of our previous year’s committee members were able to attend, the ‘official'(or as official as a bunch of hippies/permies...

February 01, 2017

Freo PermiesJanuary Meeting Minutes

It was decided that there would be a monthly meeting for January after all, so here is the minutes from the meeting last week. Attending- Megan, Annamika, Bill, Ruth, Matt, May-Ring, Tony, Fiona, Jodie, June, Dan, George, Jakki, apologies from Dave.   Blitzes- Loosely plan to start the blitz season up again around April after...

January 31, 2017

Fair HarvestJanuary PDC 2017

Looking back on the January Permaculture Design Certificate 2017. Two weeks of living and learning with group of amazing individuals…..   I, like many others feel a sense of doom when I look at the various environmental, social and economic crisis happening on our beautiful planet. The overwhelming emails that pour in every day asking us to help very real and […]

The post January PDC 2017 appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

January 30, 2017

Fair HarvestImages of the summer garden

Take a stroll around the Fair Harvest garden through the eyes of a recent Permaculture Design Certificate student and beautiful photographer Sarah Rowley

The post Images of the summer garden appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

January 10, 2017

Petit ParadisJanuary's Jungle

The sweet peas are in full swing now. A couple of bunches have been picked over the last few weeks to bring inside and to give to friends and family. They have a beautiful perfume and vivid colour.

The photo below was taken in early December. Within a matter of weeks the garden is now a jungle of pumpkin vines and zucchini bushes. Beans and peas and cucumbers.

January 08, 2017

Petit ParadisDelayed Gratification

The beloved little Kale plant pictured above has done us well over the two years its been in the garden. It is the last of its kind and I am hoping that eventually it will produce seeds to carry on the good will.

Just prior to Christmas it was heavily, HEAVILY, invested with Cabbage Moth caterpillars. This is when the photo was taken. I was taking off about a dozen caterpillars morning and night for a couple of days and feeding them to our Japanese Quail. Quality nutrition.

This year I have not sprayed for the usual caterpillar onslaught as I have not made the time and have not felt a compelling need as our boys have happily been plucking caterpillars also and feeding them to the animals. And what a year not to spray. I have never seen so many cabbage moths in our garden. In the early days of January you could look out to the garden on a sunny morning and the air was full of a couple of dozen of fluttering white wings.

I also have in the back of my mind a ticking curiosity to see just what might happen if I don't spray. What is nature going to do? In this case, what might happen was already happening. By the time I had noticed the dozens of caterpillars clinging to the kale I also noticed the presence of tiny wasps. They were already working on the job themselves.

Whilst munching into the kale the caterpillars produce blends of volatile chemicals. These chemicals attract parasitic wasps. The wasps lay eggs in the caterpillars and the eggs hatch inside the caterpillars and devour their hosts from the inside. When they finally mature, the parasitic wasps emerge, killing the caterpillars in the process. It is this rather insidious method that is employed by the wasps that helps to control numbers of the butterfly and reduce further egg-laying and development of more hungry caterpillars on our kale and in the garden in general.

The most astounding observation however was just how rapidly the kale bounced back from this apparent trauma. Within a week its crown was flush with new, bright green growth whilst further down its branches the last dormant remains of dying caterpillars released unto the garden a new generation of wasps to do the work I have not managed.

And here is the catch.

By spraying our gardens we might eliminate the caterpillars in their early stages of development - but what then are these parasitic wasps going to feed on? We've eliminated a potential food supply for them.

We were able to feed our quail and chickens, plus several generations of these tiny, tiny wasp that leverage the work of reducing caterpillars. Our kale has bounced back and with any luck after the experience will finally decide to share some seed!

January 07, 2017

Petit ParadisGoing Deeper

For a time - a whole lot of time in fact, I have been wanting to verbalize and record some of the journeys that my mind has been on over the last year or more. I think I am ready to do this. But it has been occurring to me to do so within the context of my blog - which sometimes has seemed odd to me because I've not always seen the connection between my thoughts - and my blog on our garden and permaculture journey.

I can see the connection now.

So I am back.

And I have some opinions.

And thoughts.

And I've made some connections.


I'm ready to share.

Stand by...

December 13, 2016

Fair HarvestFestival of Fibre November 2016

Festival of Fibre What an exquisitely beautiful day it was with a fantastic range of presenters and people participating in all sorts of activities. It felt very special to devote a day to fibre as it has played such an important part in our lives over centuries. “Permaculture is defined as consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships […]

The post Festival of Fibre November 2016 appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

December 06, 2016

Freo PermiesNovember Meeting Minutes

Time to summarize the monthly meeting’s minutes from the group’s convergence last week. Attending: Matt, Craig, Stephanie, Eddie, Tiuu, Jodie, May-Ring, Fiona, June & Elvis, Adi, Rob, Dan, Olga, Jakki-apologies from Sarah, George, Aidan & Renay.   Blitzes 2017- Dan, Dave, Jakki enlisted to hold blitzes in the new year. Social- Recap of Merribee camping...

November 08, 2016

Fair HarvestAPC 13

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 […]

The post APC 13 appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

November 07, 2016

Fair HarvestLearn Permaculture Design on a real life project

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 […]

The post Learn Permaculture Design on a real life project appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

November 02, 2016

Freo PermiesOctober Meeting Minutes

Last Week the crew met for our usual monthly gathering and discussion/planning, below is the minutes noted from the meeting. Attending: Dave, Annamieka, George, Jodie, Ruth, Tarnya, Jakki, May-Ring, apologies from Don as he was unwell.   Events/social: We went down to stay at Merri Bee Organic Farm and visited Southampton homestead on the weekend...

October 25, 2016

Fair HarvestProgram for the Festival of Fibre Nov 27th 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. […]

The post Program for the Festival of Fibre Nov 27th 2016 appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

October 11, 2016

Fair HarvestWeedy Pesto Recipe

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 […]

The post Weedy Pesto Recipe appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

Fair HarvestCatch and Store Energy ……….Creating an edible garden with no water access

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

Petit ParadisTillellan Update

The pile of woodchips has been sitting for nearly two years and getting richer and darker. The worms really got into it around autumn and have broken quite a bit of the leaf matter down into a dark, damp soil.

The grass has also encroached over the pile to take advantage of the smorgasbord of nutrients and moisture that is available. I have mined some of this mulch to add to our garden at Petit Paradis for the summer garden. I am somewhat confident that it will assist in holding water in the container gardens - how successfully I am not sure. Even an average summer in Albany with the January easterlies can suck moisture from the garden regardless of summer rains.

While I was bagging some of this magnificent soil I was contemplating the future garden at the Tillellan site. Renovation works started about two weeks ago. Excavation works for the back retaining wall will start soon hopefully, as there are the lumber remnants of the trees that stood on the back of the block to bury into swales. The excavator operator does not yet know of the pivotal part he will play in the future garden. But the builder has been briefed on what is to come.

As far as a design for the garden is concerned I have moved away from the initial design I had envisioned for several years. I will need to meet the families food needs whilst also allowing for the increasing amount of room required for the increasing numbers of animals. Plus allow for the possibility of a future residence at the very back of the block, which was part of the initial plan and was to come first. In the first instance, we are now focussing on the renovation first so that we can move in, and then the possible second residence.

October 04, 2016

Freo PermiesSeptember Meeting Minutes

Last week was our monthly get together to discuss all plans, events and blitzes etc. Attending-Martine, May-Ring, Fiona, Renay, Cathy, Eddie, Sarah, Don, Dave, Jakki, Annamieka, and new members that joined us Mattia, Lizette, June and Tarnya. Apologies from Jodie as she was unwell. Events- It’s that time of year again, we are at the...

October 03, 2016

HumusBeingsNew website and blog ..

Humusbeings has a new website and blog.

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

Freo PermiesPermies on the Run

Permies on the Run It’s that time of year again, we are at the end of blitz season and last moments to light a fire for the year. We have a MAMMOTH weekend away lined up for us. This year we will be camping at Merri Bee organic farm in Nannup. Saturday Southampton We have...

September 07, 2016

Freo Permiesaugust meeting minutes

So last week our group met for the usual last wednesday of the month discussion and planning. Attending-Jodie, Olga, Maggie, Jakki, Laura, Andrew, Aidan, Megan, Daniel, Fiona, May Ring, Ruth, a new member Sarah, apologies from Cathy. Events-Weekend Away to Margaret River to visit Merribee and Southampton, looking at the weekend of 29th & 30th of...

September 05, 2016

Petit ParadisSo, what's been going on?

Life has remained very busy since the previous post (in January!) but I have some time to make a bit of an update in anticipation of our project getting underway very shortly with the start of the house renovation.

Last summer came and went without too much attention to the garden so for this summer I am gearing up for the eventual move to the new house and the setting up of the garden there.

More recently we have been sorting through boxes and boxes of my MIL's lifetime of accumulation of stuff. Not such an easy feat with young family and work. Gradually the clutter is clearing and there is a rather large pile of 'material' that is ready for burying. Quite literally it will be buried as part of the new garden. There has been so much paperwork to sort through and deal with that anything that will benefit the soil in its decomposing I have put aside to bury rather than fill out our bins.

A part of the garden as it was at the end of winter.

I managed to get some time in our garden here (PP) the other week and found a few casualties from the last couple of months. A few neglected plants that have survived (just) and some that are thriving. I planted out seeds after sorting through the collection and prioritising  those that are going to need planting out this season to keep viable seeds.

Our two female rabbits will hopefully have young soon after having visited a friend's place recently. Part of my time in the garden was spent getting the animal hutches set up for summer so they can be fed and checked easily.

Once again, to make the most of our small space I am planning lots of vertical gardening this spring and summer to allow for food production and seed saving. Much of this is still to be set up, but I hope that this years garden will match previous years where the garden is bursting with plant and animal life.

Our boys are finding the garden space very entertaining at the moment and now that there is deck space to play they are also making the most of it. We had the rabbits on the deck for a while to nurture them and observe them. Now that they are back in the garden we have our 'outdoor room' back.

Freo PermiesShipwrights Cottage Permablitz – 25 September 2016

The next Freo Permies permablitz is at Shipwrights Cottage. Come and hang out with an amazing permie crew. At this blitz we will be doing a range of tasks including – wicking beds, mini glass house using upcycled materials, cob rocket stove and a cold smoker, revamping vege beds and planting spring seeds and seedlings,...

August 29, 2016

August 25, 2016

Fair HarvestA Weekend with Robin Clayfield and Robina McCurdy

  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 […]

The post A Weekend with Robin Clayfield and Robina McCurdy appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

August 22, 2016

Freo PermiesJodie’s Blitz Saturday 27th August 2016 Come along to the next Freo Permie blitz held at Womble Inn (aka Jodie and Craig’s House). If you havent been to a blitz before come and join a group of likeminded people, completing projects, sharing stories, laughs and good food. Morning tea and lunch is provided. Projects include: Food is Free pilot verge...

August 03, 2016

Freo PermiesJuly Meeting Minutes

Last week it had come to that time of month again for the meeting of like minds to gather and discuss blitzes, upcoming events and workshops, and share good food of course! For the July meeting, present were: Francois, Alice, Ruth, Craig, Don, Elizabeth, May-Ring, Jodie, Cathy, Aidan(who hosted), Jakki and a couple of new...

July 27, 2016

HumusBeingsWorm composting and all those tiny bits of plastic that get in there.

These are a couple of our worm bins that we use to dispose of our compostable household waste. This is mostly fruit and vegetable scraps, tissues, other paper plus some weeds and lots of dry stuff from the bannah grass we have growing to protect us from the south west wind and afternoon sun.

We prefer this style of worm farming as they can escape the heat or cold if they need to, which they're unable to do in the high rise type set-ups. We're lucky to have somewhere to do this.
The first one is a stack of tyres, piled so they don't have gaps for rodents to enter. It is next to a dwarf almond, which should benefit from it's wormy friends.

Even though I forgot to start this pile with worms, they have managed to get in there and I saw a couple of them near the surface. The yellow stuff is corn meal. We weren't going to eat it and it is a bit alkaline, I think, so the worms like it. Sometimes I throw some garden lime in to balance the pH if it gets too soggy and damp. Finely ground eggshell is also good to add for calcium.
The bannah grass and Acacia leaves make great compost (but we just killed the Acacia, oh well).

This Dalek looking Gedye bin was found somewhere with no lid. This lid is from a Webber cooker, which there are often many of at verge side collections.. It works well as a worm cover as the moisture falls back in. The worms get up around the edge of the bin and lurk about.

 Worms. This is under the Webber lid from the Dalek bin above. We've stopped adding foodscraps to it now, just manky water once in a while, so they can finish it off and then we can empty that one.

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.

Now This is the point of my post. All the bits of plastic. Some of these things are obviously plastic but some of the labels are a bit of a surprise. Still shiny and readable. 
Good to see no teabags or the crinkly plastic bags that we were buying salad leaves in for a while. 

This is maybe 5-7 years worth of stuff we have added in to this pile. It's still a bit of a shock though, some of the things that went in there. Only one teaspoon though and no other cutlery, so that's good.
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.

This is not a worm egg. It's a worm poo egg. This shows why it is good to crush eggshells before putting them in. If you rinse the shells when you use them they crush easier when dry and can be pulverised in a blender. 

 Look at that lovely texture.. waters in beautifully and is readily used by the soil critters and plants.

July 23, 2016

Freo PermiesBeaconsfield Blitz next Saturday 30 July 2016.

For more details visit or I’ve prepared a planning document which details the projects. Blitz Planning. If anyone would like to be a team leader, let me know. Thanks Aidan

July 16, 2016

Fair HarvestFestival of Fibre November 27th 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 […]

The post Festival of Fibre November 27th 2016 appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

July 15, 2016

Fair HarvestHolistic Management at Fair Harvest

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 […]

The post Holistic Management at Fair Harvest appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

June 30, 2016

Freo PermiesJune Meeting Minutes

This Month’s meeting was held at Cathy’s in south freo, in attendance were: Jodie Vennetti, Fiona Hook, Craig Silver, Renee McKie, George Bray, May-Ring Chen, Ruth Alberts, Jakki Dodds, Cathy Hall, and new members David Lamb Don Hunter, Dan Fuller, Laura Machny, and Andrew Delaney who were welcomed to the group.   APC– Renee updated...

HumusBeingsEdible Umbelliferae - seedlings.

Umbelliferaceae is quite a varied family of plants. Many are edible, some are violently toxic and many are ornamental. They also provide wonderful nectar and pollen for beneficial insects, that like to land on the umbels of flowers for a feed and a rest.

When they are young, it can be a bit difficult to tell which seedling is which. I happen to have a few at the moment so here are a few pictures to help. 

Of course, if you can't tell, then have a little nibble.

Dill. Fine leaves, not as fine as fennel.

Dill. A slightly more dull green.

Carrot - wider than dill or fennel, pointed tips on each bit of the leaf.

Carrots. Quite pointy at the tips

Celery. Rounder ends to leaf tips than parsley. Stems are flatter too, even at this young stage.

Flat leaf/Italian parsley. Leaf tips are slightly more divied than the celery leaf.

Florence fennel/bulb fennel. See the tiny bulb developing on this seedling.

Fennel foliage. Very fine, tends to droop a little.

Coriander. More obvious leaf venation and larger surface area undivided.

Chervil. Very fine leaf and very divided. Larger gaps between the three leaflets than coriander or parsley.

Freo PermiesRequirements to hold a blitz of your own

New members wanting to know how they may be able to hold their own permablitz would need to meet these criteria: Attend 3 blitzes beforehand Be actively involved in the group Act as a team leader at a blitz Help out with the blitz preceding and following your own blitz Be a financially current permaculturewest...

June 18, 2016

Shaun's BackyardCoffee Roasting (video)

Roasting green coffee beans using an old popcorn maker.

Read the full article on how I roast coffee here.

Shaun's BackyardCoffee Roasting

Green coffee beans ready for roasting (and some roasted ones there too)

Green coffee beans ready for roasting (and some roasted ones there too)

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.

100g green beans is my default. More makes a faster roast, less prolongs it.

100g green beans is my default. More beans means a faster roast, less prolongs it.

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 popcorn machine and a steel bowl catching the chaff

The popcorn machine and a steel bowl catching the chaff

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.

Beans roasting medium. I usually keep them going until 'second crack'

Beans roasting medium. I usually keep them going until ‘second crack’. See the video here.

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’.

Two varieties of beans cooling before storage (and tasting!)

Two varieties of beans cooling before storage (and tasting!)

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?

Good things,


June 16, 2016

HumusBeingsPermaculture tales: Trees too big for backyards.

Our little sanctuary on the hill has been rented by us for almost 20 years..  in that time we have planted a LOT of different plants, including a LOT of different trees. Most were Acacias, so they came and went fairly easily, mulched or turned into firewood.

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).

Fresh Gleditsia stump
Cutting a grid to leat heat in.
The grid
BBQ coals
These things burnt for hours.
Next morning after fire.
Still lots there. Not sure if it really did much.

Then there were the suckers that came up everywhere. Some we chopped, easy ones we pulled. Difficult or thick ones I cut and dabbed with glyphosate, using it for it's best use, precision application. 
Not all over crops.

Suckering suckerers
Little suckers.

About a year later.

Fungi on the stump.
Not looking too happy.

There are now three different kinds of fungus growing on the stump, starting to decompose it.

Now we wait and see what it does next spring and summer, see if they pop up anywhere unexpected.

June 07, 2016

Freo PermiesElizabeth’s Blitz

DATE CHANGE DUE TO WEATHER Sunday June 26th 10am 23 Burridge Way, Hamilton Hill, WA 6163 Elizabeth has decided that due to the rain, her blitz will now be on Sunday. Children are most welcome of course, but please leave pets at home for this one. Projects will include 1) Preparation for and planting trees...

June 01, 2016

Freo PermiesMay Meeting Minutes

So last week the freo permies got together for the monthly meeting, those that attended were Elizabeth, Jodie, Craig, May-Ring, Matt, Fiona, Martine, Aidan and new member Cat Hammond. The things that were discussed were: Farmers Market-first planned trial display/stall didnt happen due to insurance issues(but can be worked around for future), insurance coverage re...

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 […]

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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.

October 21, 2015

Fair HarvestOpen Edible Gardens 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 […]

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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 […]

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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.


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