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.

Monday, July 31, 2017

My garden bed secession plan

I have a reasonably clear plan for garden beds. I have examples of beds at all stages of this now.


Initial tough plants go into a location. They can survive there over one year, even if there is frost or can get a bit dry or windy.
Examples such as globe artichokes, rosemary or salvias.
Usually will be sheet mulching around them with cardboard and compost and straw. Moving rocks for weather protection and thermal mass. Fencing of various levels


Now the garden has a few living plants, often clustered around the pioneers. It can start to grow and produce and spread. Still probably has some unwanted plants in the borders and may need help at the edges.


Spreading. Self seeding, sending runners. Complex ecosystem keeping pests in check. Hopefully fences can be removed.
A mature forest in effect.
Pigface, perennial basil and other mints, warrigal greens, chamomile, alyssum are some spreading plants.


Even if left alone the gardens should hopefully spread and be a useful ecosystem, not becoming a weed problem for the area and while helped by human intervention, not required.


As a garden progress it will have increasing species and diversity to fill more roles.
The gardens are always producing some useful effects. Food production, medicines, beauty, wind break, water control, animal habitat, insects.
These can be enhanced over time with new plants or features filling those roles.
It can be made especially beautiful, or food producing.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Weeding wars, clones and biodiversity

Weeding is most peoples most hated thing about gardening.
But in general you get the plants to do the job for you. You just help those you want to win.
Spreading ground covers. Shading things out.

You still may have to help with plant population density management. Using a sickle or secateurs or even pick axe, but you can get to where it is quite rare.

What is a weed?

A lot of people have the idea that specific plants are weeds therefore they must be eliminated.
But a weed means a plant you don't want. That will vary with the context.
A plant may spread well and be a great early plant in a garden to survive and out compete other plants. Later it may need to be reduced or removed to give room for other perhaps more fragile, functional plants. If it escapes the garden it may spread uncontrollably.

Some weeds may be toxic to human or animals. Over competitive with other plants. Or just plain ugly.

The desire is for the gardens to be self sustaining. Self seeding plants is an important aspect. So this is the preferred way to spread naturally like weeds. A beneficial plant that fills space and needs to trimmed back.

And conversely for plant want to remove, break the seed cycle. Cut weeds before they flower if you can. eg hemlock

Cuttings and Genetic diversity

Some of the best plants are perennials and cuttings are the main way for humans to help these plant propagate. They are clones. So they reduce genetic diversity. Or another way, they stabilise the diversity towards some known useful traits.
Sometimes you need to 'weed' a good plants specific genetic drift.

A biologist told me that genetically the goal is 6 parent plants and a population of over 100 plants for any one plant type to be sustaining.
Not likely to be viable in most gardens but in acres a possibility to be aimed for.

Fill the roles

Don't allow open soil. It will grow something, a weed or something you chose.
Plant densely, more than that, you need ground covers
Mulch to cover unused spots.
Shade out areas with other plants
As you have a wider net of plants the 'weed' that naturally fills a niche may well be beneficial. eg basil, kale, and mustard greens are my main weeds.


Flowers have a lot of value and help immensely make a diverse, healthy garden.
You need a lot of biomass in a garden. You need insect control, shade, frost shelters. Flowers do a lot of those roles. They're very functional. or can be.
They are one of the main attractors of beneficial insects and other wildlife who can assist you.
animals, frogs, lizards, birds. These tend to improve the health of the garden, eating bugs and slugs and keeping them in control.

You want your garden populated with a wide network of life that can fill roles, plug gaps and make a resilient ecosystem.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I don't think vegan is enough

There was a recent article in our permy circles about a guy who went from vegan to freegan to permaculture based omnivore and his ethical positions.
The vegetarians have an acceptable position and attempt to not eat sentient beings. This can also be from environmental grounds.
If you have no other control of your food so you have to buy from a market, yes it is pretty overwhelming the most ethical choice.
But industrial agriculture is the problem. It is (potentially) cruel to animals and is usually polluting.
My position for that is basically Regenerative Agriculture. Salatin and Savoy and Doherty put it better than me.
On the eating sentient being front I don't think vegans go far enough.
Our view of life and sentience can be pretty limited. We think and use words and see.
Dogs think with smell over a wide range of time.
Trees think with smell and communicate across vast distances with chemical networks that communicate again with other nets, eg tree root to fungus. They know their relatives. They pass suggestions for defence to allies. They know when plants in the area are killed. they have memory.
A plant or especially a forest is very probably a conscious thing with a developed sense of self and a model of mind for other plants especially in its family group.
Why should we be discriminatory because of similarity in nervous system?

In many ways I suspect a tree or a forest is likely to be far cleverer than a human, just slower.

It could be said I'm just making up a ethical structure that fits the regen ag and still eating meat.
But thinking about it makes life complex.
So what then in the most ethical? Fruitarian? Fruit as plants make them in part so animals eat them and spread them. So we're eating their babies! But the plants rely on us doing that and pooping in new places.
So is old wood from a living tree the most unethical thing? Theoretically intelligent and wise being. All the other plants in the forest are connected and feel the loss.
So maybe earth building is the most ethical structure.
Use of dead wood is fine?
When gardening this being aware of the consciousness of plants can be disconcerting. I'm trying to help them in the garden. But for example, how do they consider pruning and laying mulch. Attack and laying corpses at their feet? But plants react well to pruning and mulch, we can't anthropomorphise, they will think differently. It isn't what we want, its what they want.
That is a big point against meat, we can be pretty sure the animal doesn't want to be eaten. A fruit? It probably does.

It has been said that meat is murder but veganism is genocide.
Cattle are one of the most successful lifeforms on the planet because they live in human society. Because we eat them there are more cows. They are protected, fed.
So a full switch to veganism would take a considerable transition to 'rewild' all those cows and sheep. It would take decades.
And would cows want to be rewilded? I doubt it.
Reduce the numbers significantly and give them a good a good cow life. With an increasingly vegetarian diet for humans, less need to intensively farm. Have cattle where good for the environment such as grass plains. Use their poop, their ability to transform grass to good soil. Cows in an integrated system are a carbon sink. Their poo feeds the grass which captures carbon faster than eaten by the cows.
In general Australian cows are grass fed and rotational grazed. Reduce the numbers by 20% and it is an almost optimum system for carbon sequestration.
Food lot factory cows are an environmental abomination.

As Salatin says he wants the cows to have the most cow life it can. same for the chickens and pigs etc and humans.
I like making my garden a good forest for chickens. I take some of their eggs. I provide a forest and protection and water and some additional food. I rarely have troublemakers to kill but when I do I eat them.
Seems a fair deal for everyone.

I wilderness garden so let all the plants, animals and other life do their own thing as much as I can. I eat fruit and leaves. I eat pests such as rabbits and animal companions like roosters if needed for health of the system. I shop local or organic or Australian and don't panic if I'm not pure about anything.
I guess the final point on ethical eating is like so much, It Depends. Balance and health of the system as well as you can figure out.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Next Plans

Door Beds

Maintain. encourage thyme and native viola. more mulch.


Sand and plants, esp thyme and chamomile. rosemary and lavender at edges. smooth. could wheelbarrow or walk when old

Rocket Stove

Raise 80cm. seal with concrete. better use of door. tougher


Smooth ground. sand for pavers. plant herbs. oregano, thyme, vertical gardens in walls. marble bench

Kitchen Garden bed

Keep dumping compost. herbs and leafy green seeds.

Breakfast nook and trees

Encourage thyme. Reduce blackberry. land scape flat area


encourage bees to move. Concrete mesh render layer on earthbags. seal.

Throne room

North rock scoop. looks nice, HDPE round pond, mints and other aquatic in pots in pool. sand

Path alongside throne

maintain. bulk up herbs. salvias. graft apple, pear. groundcovers

Bulk Vege bed

Strawbale wall, fenced bit, potato bit, artichokes, garlic, back swale. Chickens

Quarry middle gardens.

Multiple. Apple, food forest, myrtle, rosemary,
add olives, elderflower, mass line salvia plantings
chickens tractor around. plan grains areas
reduce blackberry

Native garden


Around the hole

More flowers. viola, more herbs, poppy

main garden around bedroom

maintain. compost and mulch, new bed in middle

firebreak garden

maintain. encourage ground covers. inc spread beyond edges

view garden

maintain. encourage ground covers. inc spread beyond edges

along side of driveway, next to transient pond

maintain salvia bed, more flower esp native, improve soil
maintain canna

water garden

weed, compost, improve terracing, winter leafy veges


improve diversity of plants

pond cliff

Weed black berry, chop and drop. improve terraces. pioneers rosemary etc

path to big room

rosemary, lavender, geraniums, daisy
windbreak trees butterfly bush purple flower tree
tea tree? lilypilly? tree lucerne?

big room gardens

mints, citronella geranium
mulch bed for veges etc, initial perennial herbs
bamboo west

berry run

reduce blackberry
reuse good pellets on big U
reuse fence mesh

gate garden bed


fence rainbow

pele, salvias

hobbit hole

reduce blackberry

leons apple

trim area. rebuild seat

hot tub

trim area. reduce weeds

Top of Quarry 

windbreak trees. initial protect
correa, lilypily, pigface, butterfly bush

elf house
gracies place

Flowers, reduce blackberry

goblin plain

faerie fields

herbs in grotto

plan to interplant farm trees.

the creek

reduce blackberry

leons container

enchanted wood

Plant spiky aussie natives to keep away from the limb dropping gums.


Multiple chicken runs. tractors. coops

Animal Fencing
Galv star, electric fencing, solar

Zone 0:
Things to think about

Peak Oil


Transience of life

in my case this mainly means, temporary fencing. :)


Medicinal herbs, exercise, diet, esp sugar
more vegetarian. ethical, less waste

Give less of a shit

Relax. Being selfish. Not perfect but work towards it for yourself. Environmental foot print is a lot better than most.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Scythes are awesome

The continuing adventures of Scythes are awesome and vastly superior to those stinky, noisy whipper snippers/brushcutters/line trimmers (and to a lesser extent motor mowers)

1: We are past peak oil. Petrol will never get cheaper. So it is cheaper. Even if petrol was 40c/L again, $0 is still cheaper.
Plus you need to go get petrol for a snipper. And you should empty the tank after use. So adds that bit more time overhead.

2: Climate change. No carbon monoxide pollution!

3: No petrol engine farting fumes near you and being noisy.
Personally snippers hurt my back from the vibration and give me a headache from the smell and noise.
Plus it is noisy. It is pretty rude to say get home from work and start up a powertool and annoy your neighbours.
I used to like getting home after work and doing just a few minutes of scything in the yard to relax.

4: It's relaxing, meditative and good gentle exercise.
You aren't hacking and using force. The shape of the snathe (handle) and the placement of the blade slice through, the scythe does the work. You just step forward into position.
Does take some skill to learn. A few hours say.

5: No changing that damn cord. Supposedly there is a new nifty quick change head now for brushcutters though. *shrug*.
But from my experience that is just a frustrating and annoying part of the job.
The scything equivalent would be running the whetstone over the blade. or at worst peening (sharpening edge with a hammer). Both probably quicker and easier. Especially the stone.
Albeit this is most dangerous bit of scything, might cut your fingers here (I can't remember last time I have though)

6: Safer. It's a giant blade on a stick!
Yes, versus a rotary blade on a stick. You would have to try really really hard to hurt yourself when using a scythe.
Snippers fling stones and stuff into your shins or nearby windows etc all the time.
Bystanders (especially children, chickens and dogs) might be at some risk but that's the same with both tools.

7: Faster! Really? Yep. Go find some of the videos on youtube.
The scythe usually wins. Even vs honking big mowers.
My favourite is where the 12yo girl wins.

8: Scythes are actually more effective. I initially got mine when my snipper (and I had/have a really good one) was having trouble getting through a big clump of (IIRC) pampas grass.
None the less don't use them on stupidly thick things, finger thickness would be pushing it.

9: They look cool.
I've had hunters wander onto my property and they are very respectful when I walk up with my 2m polearm over my shoulder. :)

My opinion and experience, Your mileage may vary etc.