Friday, November 8, 2019

Cow poop makes grass. Grass stores carbon.

With the Cobden Spring festival, I've been thinking about dairy farming and sustainablity.
Farmers are nearly all very true conservationists and care about the land. But they get yelled at by green types too much.
Yet as a Green-type I thinking dairy farming in Australia is, or at the least can easily be, a good thing for the environment. From carbon capture to bio-diversity and wildlife corridors.

Cow poop makes grass.
Grass stores carbon.
Standard practice, grass fed rotational grazing means more grass is created.
Holistic grazing is grazing practice specifically around improving soil quality. Maximising grass growth of perennial grasses. Often it ends up increasing the lands animal carrying capacity and acts as a carbon sink, storing more carbon in the increased grass growth fed from cow poop, easily more than offsetting that caused by cow farts.

Feedlots are an environmental abomination. They create pollution, disease and waste.
This is what most cows are terrible for the environment stats come from.
They are the sorts of places I would cheer vegans and XR protesting at. Luckily they are quite rare in Victoria.

And nearly all farms nowdays are big into native windbreaks on paddock borders. Which make fantastic wildlife corridors.

Overall I say to Australias farmers.
Keep up the good work and keep improving. Worth going to modern regenerative practices for PR, running costs, premium value, long term farm land value and the planet.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Permaculture is not zero effort gardening

I've been thinking about the different ways people garden.
To break it up broadly.
Vegetable gardening. In plots of usually a single annual crop per
plot. multiple plots for food variety.

Ornamental gardening. Mixed perennials for visual effect.

Farming. Mass monoculture for ease of harvest and production.

Now permaculture leaps in...
and it has aspects of all of those.

Permaculture gardening:
Mixed plantings of perennials and annuals. Mixed for food variety and companion planting effects. Optimised for small scale continual subsistence labour with minimal inputs.

If closest to anything it is classic ornamental gardening.
But most people come to it from an annual vegetable gardening background.

This can have consequences in initial planting and preparation and especially in continual maintenance.
At the start of a cycle in spring. An annual gardener tends to clear the bed completely, weeds or previous planting. Maybe mulch it to suppress weeds and improve the soil. Then planting into a clear area with seeds or mass seedling.

A mixed garden will have plants already existing to maintain. They may be younger perennial plants that need mulching around, pruning, clearing competition away.
They may be established plants that need maintenance, especially pruning. Which often means getting a resource. Such as cutting back perennial basil so it doesn't overrun the garden, also means you are harvesting a bulk amount of basil that can now be processed by drying or making pesto etc
Some pruning may be needed for the health of the plant or to direct competition but the output use for it is just bio mass. Mulch or hugelkultur structure.

As people are newly introduced to perennial plants, they can have trouble with their 'weed' aspects. Mint has a terrible reputation as weed. It spreads, lives in conditions other plants can't cope with. Which really just means it's hardy. A good aspect for our plants. But we do need to control it. But that is observing and interacting a little bit as required. Most mints and family, perennial basil, lemonbalm etc can usually be kept in control by harvesting. Harvest the plant as hard as is needed to keep the plant in control. Maybe not a thing for a Zone 3 or 4 where it may escape and become a weed but perfect for Zone 1.

With planning these competitive plants  suppress the weeds you don't want. Your weeds that fill gaps are now edible. So you need to weed as a task less and less.

Annual planting almost becomes as simple as, is this different to last few years? and is there room and a reasonable environment for this year.
As the garden is established a seed bank of mixed, successful self seeded plants will populate the garden.

The effort for a permaculture garden is different to a classic vege garden. It is more continual and observation based and less in set seasonal cycles of weed, plant, weed, harvest, clear.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

So now what?

Ok we had the fire.
That was a tad devastating.
Still haven't finished the clean up, a very, very long way from things being even close to 'normal'.

So now what? What is the plan? What's happening?

Well the main old garden area and bedroom and office container which everything was centered around is utterly destroyed.
So the main focus is now moved on top of the hill where there are still two unmodified containers to work from and the remains of burnt out 40'.

But down in the main quarry area and the old 'kitchen garden' and area around the old insulated container is where the main garden previously were. Some of those plants will recover.
So it is difficult to work there as don't want to disturb plant root systems that may come back in spring.
The ones that are recovering at all, the pioneers such as tough salvia and other herbs need protection and soil and shelter to have a chance.
plus while a lot was burnt the soil and previous landscaping and shelter is there. Don't want to waste that.
So down the hill is certainly being maintained in a more 'watch and see' way, rabbit fencing, a bit of mulching and micro landscaping, terracing etc

Up on the hill, which has the best view has new main (permy zone 1) gardens there in shelter of the big U of containers. Donated plants, autumn cuttings, fruit trees, herbs but also a lot of flowers. As they're what I have. That's fine. Ground  covers, fast growing root systems, shelter plants, insect attracting etc and they look pretty. Always a good thing.
Hopefully will look good in spring
And in later years can become increasingly food producing.

I planted lots of succulents and things in big broad shelter rings around the Big U, since I'm pretty paranoid about fire now and the pigface proved that the succulent fire break can work. So lots more now and lots more to come. Agave, agapanthus, pigface, mirror bush and just all succulents I can find, full plants or cuttings. Anything that should smother embers. A lot of rocks being collected to use as rock mulch in the rock shelter belts too. Including old cracked pots and crockery, plates etc from the fire.

Nursery, as in place for baby plants, will be in the shelter of the Big U, hopefully getting more sheltered over time, hopefully will be able to recollect enough glass again for the greenhouse north wall. Initially will keep all extra plants and cuttings and propagation in half IBCs. The plan with the IBCs was to make them wicking beds. Maybe a wicking like reservoir but pots in stands rather than rock/sand with soil on top.

Also thinking about how fast to get the bulk herbs propagating again.
Rosemary, oregano, holy basil, thymes maybe.
Straw bale and just anti rabbit fence.
Same as before, pumps from creek if needs extra but should be good moisture. do as raised beds in the hedged areas perhaps.

Thinking same thing for Australian natives. Especially acacia.
Strawbale raised beds.
Do as long lines so can back the ute down?
As need to grow to say 4 years to harvest.

Concern with fire. Most would resprout. but also higher fuel mass?

Tree plot. road gap, herb plot, gap. repeat?

Thinking of main berry run in same place, top of ridge near Big U. with full pallet wind fence, companion flower bed, runs of berries. Keep in a square, be aware will go wild and mix raspberry breeds. Trim corridors in it for plants in pots (IBC?).
Can run PYO berries and nursery browse in same place. Pre-pay $5 to be allowed to browse and PYO berries to munch.

The main main slope I am terracing. But not really sure what to put in there. Berries?
Garlic? artichokes? need something to stabilise slope. so some bigish trees.
Maybe trees for landscape and slope holding but annual for main use?

main market garden. Back where it was?
Concern with pollution in the soil. but probably only on far west side. just sheoak and other natives there.
That area certainly permy zone 3 now. rarer interzction.
Rubarb, globe artichokes, sunchokes, potatoes, garlic. tomatoes?
crop rotation. herbs.

Thursday, March 29, 2018


An enormous wildfire ripped through our region. Destroying homes and farms and nature belts, killing thousands of animals.
And completely wiping out The Gardens. ;(
I don't know what else to say for now.
It will take time but, I will rebuild, better than ever.

Check out how tough pigface is!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Working With The Land

I've been asked "why don't you write a book?", but I think Jackie French already wrote the gardening book I would in "Wilderness Gardening".
But I also think there is a place for a gardening book or website as simple and assessible as possible. children, and even worse lazy, unconvinced adults.

Open source

Structured, professional.
ie i own, have owners of sub sections pages etc.
and suggestions from anyone else


a living book
very appropriate

There are two audiences i want to mass market to.
One is normal households. To act as entry point then send them off to Jackie french, David Holmgren, etc

The other is conventional agriculture
Small changes with large environmental impacts that have some quick money feedback and easy to implement
slowly yes roll to regragrians
This is more the AAD site.

Lots of diagrams.
Too many good garden books are walls of text.
Heaps of photos, lots of art and diagrams. Needs to be able to be read by a kid or by those who don't know the language
Each page should have text, spoken, as many sensory modes as possible. the small and simple helps

Simple principals:
A few, easy to remember yet grow understanding from
Garden Where You See. Zones. visual energy. plant things where you walk and see.
Where is the sun and wind? simple sectors. consider shade and heat
Make soil like the forest. deep mulch to form soil in-situ. It is alive too. cover in plants or mulch
Roots support it all. and pull nutrients from deep. use perennials. start with herbs you like.
Water flows down hill. use this to water your gardens.
All lives together. mixed planting, companion planting, eco system.
Use weeds energy to help. chop and drop before flower.
Community. talk to others who see or may like some food or can help

Working With The Land

self contained chapters
full list accessable

glossary maybe

Monday, November 27, 2017

Advanced Agricultural Dynamics

Agriculture from science pov
The main selling point to farmers is saves money and easy to implement
but all techniques are also truly sustainable, can used over the long term to improve health of the landscape and the wider environment.
Simple, clear, professional looking, value for money

Increasing cattle rotation
initially may wish to reduce stocking rates. but as increased rotation infrastructure is implemented will be able to slowly increase stocking rates on the same land.
generate more of own feed. perennial grasses

mixing stock through paddocks, better weed control. but more advanced.

Drone mapping

trees act as windbreaks and shade. This shelter reduces animal watering requirements and is good for overall health.
variety of stock food crops better climate resilience and consistency of feed costs.

Holistic Weed Control
Goats, geese, pigs and other control animals
outcompeting with own plants
Chopping down
avoid use of expensive chemicals and poisons
avoid flame weeding farming. wasteful


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Raining so writing of the spring

It's raining and I know a lot has happened but I don't feel like going out and taking photos.

I've been building a roof. Corro, pallets, long timber. Big square cut cyprus logs at the ends. You can see the grain and so turn the most interesting face out.
This will hold the solar panels, look a lot better and free up the main northern wall of the bedroom for solar heating vents and climbing plants.
The main point is the guttering for water collection ability.

The main area is now linked with paths and paving stones, wide spaced with sand in between to gradually be filled with spreading herbs. It means when the chickens poop on the steps it is a small kick to knock into a useful mini garden.

The main native garden is quite established. I even removed the fencing. One of the roosters is tilling away at the edges so it can expand.

Plants are growing and budding and pointing out that they can see Spring any time. Today is wet and cold but not winter cold. I'm sure the plants will drink and ready themselves for the warmth coming.

I have the bricks and cyprus sleepers to get the improved rocket stove ready for summer.
The marble bench area will be built at the same time.

The earthbag bathroom has been fully cement rendered on the outside. The inner stone basin area has been cleared but still needs pickaxe work to chisel the basin itself.

I hoped to get working on the Big U of shipping containers but that has been cleaning up mainly. Getting the bedroom area work done is easier and a good practice of the Big U construction.
Still has a new garden bed on the sheltered east side and wind break trees planted, including carob, cherry plum, tree lucerne, acacia, lily pilly. A future forest south of the big containers.

Also much of those same windbreak trees up along the main ridge, over the quarry cliff. Less carob and more tree lucerne and lily pilly.

Still been bloody windy. It will be a few years until start to see much effect of those windbreak seedling trees. It has been nice seeing the various plans growing into place.