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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.

January 29, 2015

Terra Perma DesignThe Soil Hugger's Journey - Pick a Plant Day - St Mary's Thistle

Not quite another light and fluffy blog today… this one grew arms, legs and an attitude.  I surprised myself as to how passionate I felt about this discussion, but hopefully I’ve delivered a moderately balanced view. Endings can’t always happy – BUT perhaps this is not the end….

Introducing Exhibit C: St Mary’s Thistle (Silybum marianum)

This stunning looking - check out the patterning and edges on this baby! - and stunningly controversial St Mary’s Thistle qualifies for the Crazy Plant Section of this blog on the basis of (A) its beauty, (B) its ease of growth in our climate (a double edged sword - enter the controversy!) and (C) its many uses and (debated) properties.

Love it or hate it - understanding how plus why or why not to introduce/grow/use any plant responsibly is essential for any gardener.

January 26, 2015

Petit ParadisAustralia Day Harvest

After the last couple of warm days and their accompanying easterly winds I have eased off on the watering in parts of the garden to allow some of the plants to dry out so we can harvest their seeds.

This evening after the days celebratory activities there was just enough time to get into the garden and harvest some of the beans, tomatoes and lettuce. Plus cover up the one decent sunflower head that made it through the last few months so that the Red-capped Parrots don’t polish it all off in the early hours of the morning.

We have been calling upon the mains water to deliver water to parts of the garden this summer which is not a practice I like to do too often and over the last five years of living here is something we've really only done sporadically. This summer we've watered with mains more regularly and the results are much the same as other summers still. The summer conditions still dry out large areas of the garden. The more resilient areas being those where there has been a good covering of wood-chips and mulch previously and/or some serious compost areas. 

The chickens are doing well and have been supplying a regular egg or two a day on average. Enough to get us by with the odd carton purchased from friends here and there. The build up of vegetative matter from garden pruning and kitchen scraps is now due for gathering up and forming into another large compost heap ready for autumn plantings.

Large areas of the garden are now ready for clearing up and re-planting which seems rather early in the year compared to previous years when I've had tomato plants still in full swing. I missed that pleasure this year as I relied more on seedlings that came up in the garden as time really was not on my side with the regular routine of seeding which I do around August and September.

This summer I have really had to let the garden take charge of itself and simply keep the water up to it and train any stray tendrils or vines along the string or rope or cane that I have managed to put in place to guide them.

Scattered around the place are seedlings for various trees that I have started over the last few months in order to plant them out at the new garden when we move. I've had great success with wattle seeds from the trees at the back fence which I collected late last year. These will be grown and planted out and will be sacrificial trees that will be cut and mulched once they have done their job of establishing the garden soil.

Our fish have steadily died off since last winter it seems. Nearly all of our goldfish are gone now leaving only the Koi which seems a little odd. On Christmas Eve we got a bunch of yabbies for the table and we released a few into the pond to see how they would go as the marron we had did really well previously. They don't appear to be harassing the Koi at all and are more than likely doing a fine job of cleaning things up on the bottom.

January 20, 2015

Fair HarvestWicking Beds for Summer

This time of year is when wicking beds really come into their own, not only do they need less water than the other garden beds but the plants look less stressed during the hot days and the beds on the whole are more productive. We’ve now been experimenting with wicking beds for 4 years with […]

The post Wicking Beds for Summer appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

January 16, 2015

Terra Perma DesignThe Soil Hugger's Journey - Soil Resuscitation - Talk the TORK...

Welcome to 2015! In the SOIL RESUSCITATION blog, we break down the complexity of soil (hopefully!!!!!) into the overall aim of nutrient import and retention with a whole lot of life thrown in.  Discover how amending the soil Texture; building your Organic content; and adding some Rock dust and Kelp, meets the needs of the most important and largest living organism in any pot/garden/field/landscape.

December 28, 2014

Terra Perma DesignThe Soil Hugger's Journey - Pick a Plant Day - Bergamot (Monarda Citriodora)

Another light and fluffy blog day to wish you all a super and safe 2015! I promised you flowers!

To continue on with my few short segments on the strange things I have found growing in my garden…..  Hopefully you’ll find a few surprises amongst them and learn a little too!  Thanks go (yet again) to the guru who has planted many strange things over the years and found, by trial and error, which are the “fittest” for our climate and soil!

Introducing: Exhibit B: Bergamot (Monarda Citriodora)

I could give you details, but I think the picture says it all!

Happy New Year, thanks for being part of our journey and for supporting Terra Perma Design through a year that has seen so many changes.

December 24, 2014

Terra Perma DesignPermaculture 102 – Permaculture Design Part 3: The Client Interview Sheet.

Carrying on our adventure…..This step gives us the first look at the other major natural force in the garden – the GARDENER. The aim of this step is to trigger the thoughts of the client on items they might not have considered in their wants / needs and to highlight future discussion topics in order to get the most out of the future site visit. You’ll remember in Step 1 that we sent an email confirming we had the right house and that with this we sent a client interview sheet for them to fill out. In this step we’ll start to walk through the questions and provide a little background as to the reasoning behind each query.
I wanted to send this one out with a huge thanks to you all for your acceptance of me into this world of blogging, and for joining me along the road of what is an eventful journey.  I wish you and your loved ones a smile-filled festive season and (now I have to confess another imperfection in the Soil Hugger!) an interruption-free Boxing Day Test! I have a special Happy New Year gift in store for you….. I’ll say it with flowers….. yes, I confess I’m a sucker for flowers, but they have to have to be fascinating or awe inspiring, pretty just ain’t gonna cut it!
Until then, Enjoy.

December 13, 2014

Terra Perma DesignThe Soil Hugger's Journey - Pick a Plant Day - Chilacayote (Cucurbita Ficifolia)

It’s light and fluffy blog day!  As I am now a few months into this crazy, scary journey, I thought I would write a few short segments on the strange things I have found growing in my garden, now that I have the time to look.  Hopefully you’ll find a few surprises amongst them and learn a little too!  Thanks go to the guru who has planted many strange things over the years and found, by trial and error, which are the “fittest” for our climate and soil!

Introducing Exhibit A: Chilacayote (Cucurbita ficifolia)

Family – Cucurbitaceae
Genus - Cucurbita
Edible - Fruit, flowers, leaves and seeds.
Growth - In Perth, we’ve found it to be a hardy ground runner like pumpkin, but far easier to grow, with better pest and disease resistance (no powdery mildew, hurray!), and more prolific fruiting (or squash-ing in this case).

Head to the Soil Hugger's Website for full discussion.

December 09, 2014

HumusBeingsExciting new species of edibles.

After many years I finally have a couple of the perennial plants that were in the Permaculture manuals as excellent perennial crops. Luckily a few people in Perth have been growing some of these rare seeds and there is a network of food growing, seed collecting gardeners that are sharing the joy of growing their own food. 

Chilacayote (Cucurbita ficifolia). 

This rambling perennial vine produces round zucchini-like fruit that are eaten small, around apple size when they can be steamed or eaten raw. Medium ones are good baked and larger fruit can be used added to soups or stews to add bulk. The seeds are also said to be tasty from the big fruit.

Pigeon pea.
Pigeon peas are a tallish shrub that makes a lentil type pea. Useful plant for making shade and structure for beans to climb. It is a notrogen fixer too, being a legume. Quite handy.

Mouse melon (Melothria scabra).
This little melon grows rapidly and produces small fruit likened in flavour to cucumber. I haven't tried any yet, but a few folk in Perth and Albany have had success. Looking forward to these. Hopefully they will not be tasty to rodents.

We also have yakon growing in a few spots this year, so I guess we should actually eat some this autumn when it is ready.

Maybe this year we can trick the pesky rodents and end up with something to eat from our garden for a change.

December 05, 2014

Terra Perma DesignPermaculture 102 - Permaculture Design Part 2: Assessing an Urban Garden's Potential Based on Sun Angles, and other Sources of Natural Energy.


Following on from Part 1 (in which we identified the layout of the property, prepared the aerial diagram and made some initial interpretations from both the diagram and by doing a little research into the general area’s climate), Permaculture Design Part 2 gives us the first look at real Permaculture thinking - the Sector Analysis of the space.

We'll look at what is outside the design area but has an impact on it – I.e. the channeling, or alternately protection from, one of nature's energy sources – wind, sun, fire, water, frost.  One of these will often represents a dominant force in a design – e.g. the sun – pretty dominant in Perth!
This step will give you an idea of the seasonal changes occurring within the block and hence the heat/solar energy, air flow, fire risk, water delivery opportunity/problems, or chill locations that need to be worked with.  Whilst we will cover this at a very high level here, we'll get into much more detail on all of these forces within future blogs as we step onsite and find examples to explore!.  This information will help you assess (a) what plants will survive and thrive in different areas of the garden all year round and for many years to come (perennials); (b) which spaces should be dedicated to annuals (with alternate season options too!); and (c) where we can look at creating new protection systems to extend the time an area is suitable for growth (E.g. the addition of a deciduous tree or a wind guiding bank of plants).   ENJOY!

November 13, 2014

Terra Perma DesignPermaculture 102 - Permaculture Design: For Rural Only? Not in the slightest! - Part 1

Picture sorry for such a long pause (but yes the Terra Perma Design PDC was a ripper!).

I hope I will adequately reward you for your patience as I take you on a step-wise walk-through of the Permaculture Design process drawing on what I learnt on my course and including some pretty key Permaculture "Rules of Thumb" along the way. Follow the Link and let the fun begin!

November 10, 2014

HumusBeingsPassive solar house design.

This page is full of fantastic information about how to design a house to maximise the free cooling and warming that is available by using proper solar passive design.

This is good if you are able to start from scratch. There are also lots of ways to retro fit a home to improve cooling and heating. Planting deciduous shade plants to the ease north and west of a home can prevent it heating up in summer.

Surrounding your house with food plants would also be a great thing to do to save money in the long term.

October 21, 2014

Freo PermiesDaniel’s Mini Blitz Saturday October 25

So i want to make use of my verge and be able to say i have 0% grass. Come and help me transform grass into food What 1. Build Mini Swales on the verge 2. Chop some bottle brush trees down to make space for stonefruit planting next winter. 3. Finish the perimeter of my...

October 11, 2014

Petit ParadisBamboo Success

I've had really good success with propagating the bamboo this year ready for the move to the New Garden. I cut up lengths of bamboo, stuffed the ends with vermi-compost and lay the bamboo sandwiched between two layers of compost. A little watering and then left under the house and only watered once or twice to keep it minimal.

This will assist in speeding up the growth and coverage of the bamboo grove at Tillellen. I've also be nurturing multiple plantings of camellia sinensis, honey locust, carob, avocados, lilly pillies and various ground covers.

Petit ParadisSeedlings and Garden Fit-Out for the Summer @ Petit Paradis

The new garden bed being dealt whatever I could get my hands on. Kitchen scraps, horse manure, lawn clippings, newspapers, mulched green waste from a clean up at the other house, small twigs and logs, shredded office paper. Some shovel loads of dirt from the chook pen and all the large bits of material left in the chook pen after the winter that didn't break down. This was then hit with regular waterings of grey water, yellow water, cool drink, molasses, and seaweed concentrate. Topped off with horse manure. By the end of the day it had already sunk down nearly half a foot.

More use of the vertical space is planned for this summer. I've tried to still create a bit of space as last summer the garden got hit with mildew in late summer. It was a very humid little garden and the tomato plants made a real jungle of the place.

Some stuff hanging over from winter, some starting off, some fresh and new and just waiting for seedlings once things have settle down a little. This aspect will look quite different by late summer.

Small beginnings of various seedlings and left overs of the home-made seed raising mix. I need to make up a heap more as there is still a lot more I want to get planted. There will be a variety of plants for seed saving this year so it should make for an interesting event at some point. We'll see how we go. Things are busy with family at the moment so the garden is once again having to look after itself where possible.

The sweet potatoes are flourishing at the moment after looking a little sorry for themselves of the last few weeks. I have placed larger pots in the garden beds and will grow crops like sweet potatoes in amongst them. I really need the garden to be easy to water this summer as time is going to be an issue, I can see it already.

I have also had to spend a bit of time at Tillellen getting the lawns mowed and trimmed. Not a favourite task in so many ways and there is more to do. We are living with high expectations that we can hopefully get the new build started soon at at least the infrastructure for the New Garden started.

The back garden bed got some more horse manure additions today and I planned out where I will plant the corn and how I will water it. I still have chilli and pepper seeds to get started - and some room to find to plant them. I think for this year I will utilise the garden beds around the side for salad greens and allow the main garden to grow the tomatoes and chillies, corn and beans.

I have decided that we will wait for the move to Tillellen before getting quail and possibly guinea pigs. We already have our work and time cut out for us without adding more elements into the equation.

Fair HarvestFestival of Forgotten Skills Nov 30 2014

The Festival of Forgotten Skills is on again! Join us this Sunday for our amazing festival. For those of you that weren’t here for our 2012 Festival it was a beautiful day of sharing skills ranging from candle making to rope making to cheese making. This year we have a whole new range of skills with even more people […]

The post Festival of Forgotten Skills Nov 30 2014 appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

October 09, 2014

Terra Perma DesignGarden Update - The Hoverflies Descend

To add a little light fluff to the grind of recent posts, here's the first of a quick blog section with current activities, learnings and/or seasonal insights….. The sun is out, the hover flies have descended and the camera has been in action….

October 06, 2014

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 .. 

October 05, 2014

Petit ParadisOctober Update

With two very active, healthy young boys I have hit a major challenge recently. I don't have the time I feel I need to keep the garden ticking along as it should. Not one to give up easily I've had to make do with small bursts of action in the garden. Not easy when your tired. Let alone recording the challenges in a blog post. It's a good thing I can touch type!

As it happens I've also started to make a few structural changes to the garden and so I'm caught on the hop of sowing seeds, getting soil set up and having to do 5 things in order to achieve completing one.

The weather has also made a mockery of the situation. Not that I mind. The sun, rain, sun, rain, sun, rain routine is great for this time of the year so it's another indication that I'm still on the mark with getting stuff in the ground and sorted out. Five minutes ago we had thick grey cloud cover, no sun and heavy, heavy rain. Now it's overcast with broken sunlight and breezy. Again, its a matter of on, off, on, off coordination with everything else that is demanding of time.

Torrential down pour at 14:30. The garden is under reconstruction!
Twenty minutes later at 15:00 it's bright and sunny
It occurred to me today that farmers at least have the time to sow and harvest and do everything else in between. Backyard gardeners in comparison have to usually make the time in amongst a normally busy urban lifestyle. Sometimes, as I am finding, this is not fun. And not easy.

But I have to say that even just some time in the garden seems to be necessary occurrence these days - as some sort of spiritual grounding.

So, hitting the soil this week were:

Rattlesnake beans
Lazy Housewife beans
Cherokee Wax beans
and some Blue Lake from yesterdays Produce Swap.

There are Swaziland White Maize seedlings coming along in the hot house along with cucumbers, zucchinis and tomatoes. 

As I finish off this post it is 20:40 and it is raining quite heavily outside. A blocked gutter pipe is causing a waterfall cascading down the side of the house which will need looking at. Another thing to add to the list!

October 01, 2014

Petit ParadisThe First Cicada

Yesterday I heard the first cicada for the season. If I remember rightly I didn't hear the first one last year until about the 17th of October. Perhaps they are early this year due to the warmer weather. Regardless, it was a reminder that I've been a little bit behind my usual routine this Spring. Normally I've already had seeds in seed raising mix or planted out well and truly by now, but this year there have been too many other things tugging at time. So eventually there comes a moment when I know I just have to get the job done. This year I've made my own seed raising mix. Not quite a measured effort. 

Due to a small pair of helping hands eager to assist there were extra quantities added, so I ended up making a mix in much the same way I cook. Adding the ingredients until it feels and looks right. This years mix consisted of:
  • coconut coir
  • a blood and bone mix
  • garden lime
  • sand - heat treated time permitting
  • perlite
  • some fine vermicompost from the very bottom of the worm farm
These were mixed into a very friable, water absorbent mix and then used in various containers depending on the seeds and plants required. It is usually a mix of small paper pots which I hand fold, seed raising trays and segmented trays. These were all made up when time permitted to allow me to sow seeds into the trays or pots later in the night once I'd worked out what I wanted to get started right away.

Within days some of the brassicas were already up. The corn was following in a mad rush. I anticipate that soon the tomtoes will be screaming up. In the meantime I collect horse manure where and when I can and have piled this around the place in various assemblies of compost piles, topping off compost bins, putting into containers with some dynamic lifter to let it sit while the seedlings grow.

Planning for the summer garden is a balance of left and right brain thinking. There is a really rough plan and a lot of intuition and observation. To make things interesting its a blend of:
  • what are we going to want to eat this summer?
  • what seeds do I need fresh seed of?
  • what is the general weather conditions going to be?
  • what will do best in these weather conditions?
  • what plantings will make the garden different and interesting this year - for myself and visitors?
  • what plant group will I focus on?
My prediction for this summer is for it to be extra hot and quite windy. So this summer the grape vine will once again be trained up and over the deck to create a 'green room' out of the deck and break the winds down a little so its still nice to sit out there and enjoy it.

Winds and heat mean extra water is going to be required and so there is some extra preparation I still need to do to make the most of our water plus make it easy to water.

So far I have managed to plant corn, tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, various brassica, beetroot, beans, fennel and peas.

September 29, 2014

Terra Perma DesignPermaculture 101 - Ethics and Design Principles

In preparation for the upcoming PDC, someone has been doing their pre-reading..... This Permaculture 101 Series blog presents a high level over view of what Permaculture is, what ethics are upheld and what design principles are woven through every design produced in order to achieve a permanent agricultural system that meets the needs of all life systems contained within it.

September 25, 2014

HumusBeingsBackyard chickens may be taking up organochlorines from your soil.

Every now and then someone pipes up to remind or inform other back yard chicken keepers that they may be poisoning their family by letting the chickens free-range in their gardens. This is due to the persistant nature of a lot of the organochlorine type pesticides that were widely sprayed in the seventies and eighties to try and control Argentine ants and termites around people's properties. Often whole suburbs were sprayed, usually along fence lines and back alleys and around the stumps and foundations of houses. If you live in an area that was previously market garden you may be at risk, too. These older established urban areas have more of a chemical load in the soil than the newer suburbs on recently cleared Banksia woodland and sandplain areas.

These chemicals are in a group called Persistant Organic Pollutants. They break down very very slowly and accumulate in the food chain; as each larger animal eats their prey they gather higher and higher amounts of the toxin in their fatty tissues.  If you have chickens and they are scratching the soil and eating insects from an area that is still toxic and then you eat those eggs, there may be some of these poisons in your body. There are a number of problems caused by these toxins, from allergies and neonatal developmental changes to nervous system damage, cancer and even death.

You can reduce the risk of ingestion through eggs by siting the chicken run away from fence lines and house foundations and by installing a cement floor, layers of thick plastic or deep enough fresh soil to prevent the chickens getting to the deeper layers.

You can get your soil tested at various analytical soil labs around the city.
Chemcentre WA is the most commonly recommended.

September 23, 2014

HumusBeingsOrganic pest control outline for Living Smarties Melville.

­­Organic pest control talk.

How to reduce pest problems without using chemical sprays?

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


Biodiversity increases predators and plant diversity allows some plants to survive when others get diseased or eaten. 
The four main ideas to consider to increase biodiversity in your garden are :


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

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

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

How to reduce pest problems?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which leads to BIODIVERSITY..

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

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

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

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

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

Observation is important in all stages of pest control, to make sure you won't kill more than just the pest.  Use a magnifying glass to aid identification and if you can't id it get some help. 

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

September 22, 2014

Petit ParadisSpring Update & Planning

After the most amazing August weather we entered September with wonderful weather too, until as usual, the heavy rains came. Each year our little apricot tree opens its blooms and is more often than not hit with hail which inevitably knocks some of the flowers from the branches. So far this year we have managed to only have heavy showers and enough sunny periods to let the bees into the garden unhindered to do their busy business. After an inspection yesterday it looks like we might get a reasonable crop of apricots this year and with further luck, may be able to save the seed and get some more trees going.

The wattle trees at the back fence are laden with small pods that are just starting to fill out. By late summer they should be popping with seeds. Last year this is what the rats came to us for, until they also discovered the peas, tomatoes, grapes and corn. With a few modifications to this years garden and some early placing of baits I hope to get around the problem this year. It was our first visit from rats and from what I picked up talking to other gardeners the rat problem was wide-spread last year in the Albany area.


It is usual for me at this time of the year to 're-design' the garden for the coming summer. Each year it takes on a different look and purpose depending on what is required. Last year it was getting a good supply of tomatoes and seeds so tomatoes dominated the scene. I'm actually a little behind in the planning this year, but there is little I can do about that.

This year we'll have a very keen 3 year old wanting to continue to assist in the garden so I need to also watch what is planted where!

Quite a lot of one side of the house has been planted out with Cape Gooseberries since autumn. This was to provide a point of diversion for our toddler come summer when the fruits are plentiful and he can easily reach in and pluck them off to peel them and either eat himself or feed to the koi. This amuses him and keeps him entertained and given I haven't been able to get into the garden much it has minimised my efforts required in that part of the garden whilst still keeping the soil covered and the earthworms active.

This year I have a range of seed collected from around the place that I am not sure how old it is. I am thinking of planting out what I can into seed trays and taking it from there. The back garden bed has already been modified to be planted out with corn, beans, herbs, salad greens, root crops and pumpkins. All the trellis will remain in position until we eventually move due to a keen desire to keep the work load down where possible. Already, after the extreme winds yesterday in Albany I am looking at how to make watering a little easier this year and to protect the garden from the easterlies which I suspect will be strong this year.

A significant part of the garden is also a small nursery at the moment. I have been propagating trees and herbs and bamboo, ground covers and berries for our eventual move. So another side of the house is virtually filled with these to nurture them along through the next year or so ready for planting out when we create our next garden.

Given the impending move I am also wanting to get bit of variety into the garden this year so that we can still do small garden openings as it will probably be the last summer that we do them here. It is also likely there will be an autumn even also so it would be nice to have plants following through to that time as well. I mention this because it means there will be a lot of containers in the garden and its going to need to retain water where it can so it doesn't dry out. The new garden I am planning out will be planted out into the soil and utilising grey water so I don't anticipate the level of care required will be as high as it is currently with this garden.

Some of our fresher seeds will be distributed through the local Seed Circle project group so that we can maintain the diversity and spread the risk of loss. Part of the planning this year has been to do a bit of an audit of where we are currently at and what varieties we need to focus on.

September 19, 2014

Freo PermiesFrom Bare to Bountiful – Blitz on 4th October

Come along to make history, as we turn our blank suburban block into a yielding permaculture paradise!! This is literally a blank canvas – so we will turning builders’ sand into a garden haven in one day Get your boots on and green thumbs dirty! There’s a job for everyone from laying sleepers to planting seedlings. Welcome...

September 15, 2014

Terra Perma DesignSoil (LIFE) Series - "Pick a Phylum" - Nematodes

Much is asked about nematodes and how to avoid them entering your garden…. but what are they, how do they strike fear in our hearts (or at least our green-ish thumbs), do they have a “bright side” and is there any place for them within our soil ecosystem?  This "Soil (Life) Series - Nematode" blog will introduce you to the phylum that is the nematodes; the options available to you for prevention; the lack of methods for eradication; the potential management techniques (and the impact of some of those on the good, the bad and the ugly); a bit of solidarity if you're suffering; and hopefully a little less fear in the face of spotting those lumpy roots.

Freo PermiesDrylands Permaculture Excursion October 18 & 19

We’re off on a weekend road trip to Julie Firth’s Drylands Permaculture farm in Geraldton! Friday evening of 17th October, returning Sunday arvo 19th October.The Drylands Permaculture Nursery is a unique example of permaculture in WA. In the past, our friend Julie Firth has generously given the Freo Permies her time and expertise on seed saving and...

September 14, 2014

HumusBeingsSowed some seeds.

Only sowed a few of each of lots of different varieties
Feeling encouraged by the warmer nights and sunny days, today I sowed a bunch of vegetable seeds. Maybe this year we can get to eat some stuff, instead of the rats pinching it all. I have netted the white shatoot mulberry this year for the first time as we have ravens raiding the loquat tee and rainbow lorikeets back on the powton for their spring flower feast. You get sick of chasing them away after a while.

I'm hoping that if I start beans off here first then they won't disappear like the last lot seem to have done that I planted direct in the soil.
   Also had some success with some cuttings of perennial herbs, which is always a great way to get a few free shrubs. Made a few prostrate rosemary cuttings from a tough self sown rosemary that grows across the road out of a limestone wall. So that should be happy in its new spot up at Ecoburbia.

September 11, 2014

Terra Perma DesignSoil Series - Episode 2.3 - Resultant Soil Properties

We continue  the "Soil Series" with an investigation of the effect of our "Pieces of Soil Pie" on the Physical Properties of the soil, what affects them, how we might assess them, and what we hope to migrate our Perth coastal sandy / hills clay-ey soil towards. Episode 2.3 runs through soil texture, structure, density, porosity, consistency, temperature, colour and resistivity.  Then, if you're not thoroughly exhausted, I've looked at pH just because I was curious.  Next time....Nematodes - it takes more than one nematode to make a phylum. Enjoy!

(Picture Source)

September 09, 2014

Fair HarvestThursdays at Fair Harvest

  Please note…..the cafe will be closed for January and reopen on Feb 12th………see you then! 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 for learning and they […]

The post Thursdays at Fair Harvest appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

September 04, 2014

Terra Perma DesignSoil Series - High Level Components of Soil - Organic Matter (Episode 2.2)

We continue  the "Soil Series" with an investigation of the Organic Matter component within the "Soil Composition Pie".  Episode 2.2 focuses on the pictorial representation of the Soil Food Web plus the associated relationships and paths of energy/nutrient transfer. Enjoy!

September 02, 2014

Terra Perma DesignThe Soil Hugger's Journey - “Pick an Insect” Day – The Aphid

Follow the link to learn all about this little beastie, why it is an effective plant crippler and some ways of supporting your garden system to overcome its attack - if not this current wave, then in preparation for the next.

Plus some fancy close up and personal paparazzi photos.... from our new digital microscope!

August 27, 2014

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

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

August 22, 2014

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

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

Wicking Beds are one option.

See the concept explained, the size / container options, the drawbacks and the results of our experimentation with the whole range as we try to find the best fit for various sized gardens and circumstances.

August 20, 2014

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

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

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

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

Learn a little more about the joy of chooks, testing and keeping eggs, plus info regarding the small scale chook tractor.  This blog is more for the self-confirmed "City-Kids".

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

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

Follow the link to read the blog on Cotton Plants grown in Perth and a little more info on this intriguing plant.

August 15, 2014

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

  —————————————– The overall site plan is here: Matt & Danna PB site plan Grey water design here: greywater design 3 Raised Hugel beds here: Raised Hugel beds for rear food forest Not that this is a project, though thought I’d include it – if we have too many people some of these can be made…. Wicking pots: How...

August 12, 2014

Fair HarvestCinefestOZ film night Fair Harvest

CinefestOZ  “The Animal Condition” We are  excited to have our first CinefestOZ Film showing at Fair Harvest, and have just found out that the film makers have confirmed they will be joining us for the screening. Price includes a delicious vego curry cooked by Heather. Burnside Organic wine available by the glass. The following is a […]

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

Terra Perma DesignThe Soil Hugger's Journey Begins

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

As of August 1st 2014, I’ve dropped out of the corporate world and am keen to find a very different passion. Being a city kid married to a Permaculture Nut (originally from farming stock - seedling, not grafted!), things were bound to rub off and now I’m ready to get my hands dirty.

So I’m setting off on a scary journey (with fabulous support crew, thanks to the Nut!) to seek out work/play which grabs my interest and satisfies my environmental conscience.

I welcome you to join me on this adventure.

The plan is to include snippets of Permaculture information for those just starting our on the journey - like me - or those just interested in gardening activities and methods
.  Hopefully we'll learn heaps together as I investigate each topic and we might even surprise some of our more learned colleagues along the way.

My plan is to investigate individual plants, insects, animals, structures, and quirky items, with additional info on activities I participate in
which I think might interest others. 

Identifying myself as the Soil Hugger comes from the
belief that all good things come from great soil.....Tree hugging is great, but Soil Hugging is better!.  Obviously the development of that great soil and the management of what grows (and lives) in it (on it and over it) will feature heavily in the blog from a gardening perspective, but also my curiosity about Soil Carbon Sequestration, and my desire to study this more, will potentially influence the blog. We'll see how that pans out.

Anyway, enough intro…. let’s get onto the interesting stuff.  Feel free to ask questions, make requests, provide feedback, and add your own stories, but most of all enjoy and encourage others to do the same.

Head to the link -

I'll also include the links on our Terra Perma Facebook Page, so feel free to follow my journey from that vantage point!

I hope you enjoy the ride.


August 08, 2014

HumusBeingsYabbietat tank

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

Since taking these pictures more bits of pipe have been added so there are more spaces for the crustaceans to shelter so they don't attack each other.

Fair HarvestMargaret River Inspirational Food and Wine Journeys

We are so proud to be living in an area that is actively promoting its local produce and encouraging more people to get involved with growing food. Our local Farmers Market has steadily grown over the past couple of years, starting as a small event every second Saturday and evolving to a large, bustling weekly event. […]

The post Margaret River Inspirational Food and Wine Journeys appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

July 26, 2014

Freo PermiesIt’s on – August 2014 Permablitz!

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

July 23, 2014

Terra Perma DesignTesting Blog Facebook Link

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


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