May 27, 2012

Our Property Has A Name.

Just a quick post to show off the beautiful sign Vicki made to go out the front of our house. It's painted by hand using oil paints on an old fence post we found half buried out in the back paddock. I think it and Vicki are just beautiful :)

May 20, 2012

The Evolving Garden

Its been a while between posts, I thought I'd do a garden update and talk about a few related things. There are now about 9 garden beds in the veggie patch, my feeling is that its about half the size I'm eventually aiming for or maybe a bit under. Its hard to get the whole thing into one photo so the first 3 pictures here are all taken from the front deck slowly panning from left to right.

First up 2 beds where I am experimenting with some plastic covers. We are just starting to get out first frosts (a new thing for me) and I have a lot to learn about coping with them. While the nights are cold, the days still get pretty warm so I have to open them up to let some of the heat out during the day. Its pretty labour intensive, but seems to be working so far.

Some of the plastic covers are made from big plastic bags that the moving company put around our mattresses when we moved, others are made from painting drop sheets. The mattress bags are best so far, the plastic is stronger, in the future I might bug some bedding shops to see if they have any they are throwing away. I'm toying with the idea of turning the hills hoist into a greenhouse :P

Further around to the right is the main section where the original beds were put in. You can also see bits of the the drip irrigation system I've made.  The red bucket are connected to poly pipe with little holes punched in them. I got some poly pipe from my dad when I visited them last Christmas and then I also picked up some more from the local tip shop for a few dollars. I can water about 90 percent of my plants with 3 buckets of water when it used to take me about 6 watering cans, I've been checking and the ground is always moist.

Further around you can see the bed next to the water tanks and my seedling table, also protected from the frost. There is another bed further down the hill, the one the shower system drains into. That's the direction I will be expanding in. There are a few obstacles and strange shaped spaces down there so I might go for circular beds that are easier to fit around things.

Pictures of soil don't show up very well on my phone camera so I don't have images, but the soil in the older beds that are about 5 months old now is looking great. They were just cardboard, horse manure and straw, but now they are light, rich and fluffy carbon packed soil. That's carbon we put in the ground, a constant activity here now in multiple ways. It feels great to know we are completing that cycle, its how all things on this planet are supposed to live. When there is no carbon left in your top soil it is simply not top soil any more because the bacteria and fungus that fertilise growing things feed on the rotting carbon. Its estimated that there is about one third less top soil on the planet than there was 50 years ago, the USA has lost two thirds. Where did it all go? Ploughing and cultivating the soil instead of building on top of it releases the carbon into the atmosphere. Planting mono cultures and a smaller variety of crops will not help either.

I am starting to mulch between the beds too now so I don't have to mow between them. It also means there is more organic material breaking down into the ground.

Using some old vacuum seal bags stolen from the linen cupboard and a bit more poly pipe I've also made a few smaller free standing plant covers. In this one you can see the coriander is very happy in the hot steamy conditions it creates.

I've put in some new strawberries and we have a bumper crop of lemons coming on, I can't take much credit for them though, the tree was already there when we moved in.

Another thing we have been chipping away at in this part of the garden is clearing some of the grass out the front of the property. I don't have anything against the long grass in general (better than mowing), but as it gets very dry here in winter we felt it was probably a bit of a fire hazard. You can see in this images below how much we have cleared. 

That was all cleared by hand, no machines involved. Bloody hard work :P. Now I have to think what to do with it. I don't want more grass to mow, and I don't want to slowly loose it to weeds again either. For now I'm putting in a green manure/animal feed crop of Lucerne which will keep it busy while I think about it. Its actually a great spot for a food forest, close to the house with great soil, but its the councils land and I'm a bit hesitant to put in expensive plants that the council might come along a bulldoze one day to put in a pipe line or something.

Another great thing that happened the other week is I found a local Permaculture group that meets once a month. It has several other members that live right here in Nanango, some even in my street. It feels so good to know I'm not alone out here and I can't wait to see how things develop with them. One of them called Farmer Liz has a great blog if you would like to see more -

Hmm I wonder what tomorrow will bring :)