Wednesday, May 23, 2012

small steps towards ....

it can all be very overwhelming you know ... buying a piece of land in order to create a sustainable life .... not just for you but your children as well ... it is a huge responsibility.

and you have to take the time to slow down and do it right .... getting it right is important at this stage.  there will be lots of experimenting down the track .... but we need to get some basics down first up.

we need trees
lots of trees
to create a food forest
to give us shelter
to feed us and give us fuel

so we are startin' small .... by getting a few pioneer plants on the property.  some to improve the soil, some to become nice big canopies for us.  just a few for the moment .... to get things going.  we have put in an avocado (great canopy trees!), an acacia, casurina and a silky oak .... all these will be great for the landscape.

but wait.  oh geez .... how do we water them???? tend them while we are waiting for them to take?  and at this time of year when we don't get much rain?

enter one very creative husband and an old garbage bin. this particular line of trees is planted on a slope on the fence line .... so we have placed the garbage bin just above them ... lid, which happens to have a small hole in it, turned up to catch any rain (wishful. thinking!) .... and the obligatory brick to weigh it down.

brilliant!  thank you sweetie!

this will allow us to continue to plant up and down that line of trees for a few months yet, and ensure that we have a source of water that we can go out to as we build up our forest.  eventually we will have a rain water tank in with a gravity fed ag line i'm fairly sure .... but in the meantime, every other day i am bringing out 5 x 3 ltr containers of water and a 10 ltr container.  watering the trees and putting the extra in the garbage bin to keep the storage growing.  it seems to be working!

the other thing we need to do is create soil.

it is at the heart of what JustEarth is all about .... acknowledging that soil .... this good earth is what will enable us to create a sustainable way of life that will go on into the future.

so we need to make compost.  it's really a family affair at this point .... and i think the kids enjoyed themselves!

we've placed a thick layer of cardboard down with a trailer load of wood chip and mulch clippings on top.  this has been watered in a bit and the next layer will be some green kitchen scraps and more grass clippings. that should do well.  i expect there will be a number of these piles appearing all over our land.

and on one final note.  we don't have a lot of money and we need to get this property under control with all the tall grass.  can't afford a machine to slash (a waste of money) .... and would hire someone to slash, but even that is a lot.  if we can get this slashed we can start creating straw .... which will create our beds later .... quick answer?  a scythe!

i reckon this is pretty ambitious.  but it also means we can do a section at a time get it under control and then move on from there.  on face value a good plan .... and good for the health too!  we will certainly keep you informed of how this one comes together!

Friday, May 11, 2012

where grow tomato's ....

i was out in our rental properties tiny little veggie patch yesterday and my heart sighed -- tomato's.  and i thot .... where there grow tomato's .... there grows hope.

now .... if you follow me at all you will know that i love all things tomato .... even have a first planting calendar here that was to give me the ability to plant a significantly longer season of tomato's .... and of course, then we moved and it all went out the window.

and here we live in the Northern Rivers now ... heading in to winter that would have to be marked as laughable compared to what we had in the Blue Mountains.  but that's ok!  no frost means a significantly longer growing season in all it's glory.

to be living in an area where you can very literally grow year round OUTSIDE ... is truly amazing.  the world of choice and options that is available for all your planting is fabulous. winter veg becomes a reality and you would be amazed at just how many different types there are!

i was at the markets the other weekend and was talking to a local grower and asked them what the growing season for tomato's was like and they said that in all truth, if you were willing to put up with slow growth in July/August, and potentially cover for a few nights of cold that you could easily grow tomato's all year.  wow .... tomato's as a legitimate crop all year.

who woulda thunk it!

so that has me happy as a pig in mud!  thinking about trying a few new varieties after looking through the Eden Seeds Catalogue that i have.  i already have a a few dozen ready to be planted out.

so i am dreaming of mandala gardens full of tomato's and basil and of a spring passatta making party that will bring friends and neighbors together .... because you see, even in our little rental property veg patch .... we have tomato's growing ...

and where there grow tomato's .... 
there grows hope .... 
and the promise of more scrumptious varieties of harvest yet to come!

Monday, May 7, 2012


International Permaculture Day was celebrated on the 6th of May.  we did what all good permies do who live in this neck of the woods -- travel to Zaytuna Farm, home of Geoff Lawton .... one of the international godfather's of Permaculture to get a farm tour from the man himself.

we got an insiders perspective on the how's and why's and wherefore's for permaculture at Zaytuna.  Seeing the progress of food forests .... 10 years old and 10 weeks old.  a kitchen garden that had our children (and numerous other kidlets that were there) playing their hearts out.  bamboo .... oh my .... again reminded of the uses and benefits!  rabbits ... we'll have to get over the cuteness factor because they are a great and prolific source of protein.  ducks, chooks, goats .... and dairy and meat cows.  and of course the all important aquaponics and soldier fly larvae collecting!  it really was great to see it all in action .... knowing it is achievable and do-able if we apply ourselves.

memorable quote of the day, "we're aren't food farmers, we're soil farmers ... it's about getting the soil healthy ... we are here to tend that."

a picture is worth a thousand words .....

... the beginnings of a food forest

an old trailer converted to a mobile chicken coop.  solar
power is used for the netted fencing so that these
birds can be moved around the property and do
their bit to help with soil fertility.

the kitchen garden.  i was in love .... instantly!

here Geoff is expounding on the value
of bamboo .... did you know it is
a grass/weed inhibitor?
"the man" sharing about the rabbits over ducks and
the chicken enclosure

more discussion on swales, water management
and this amazing creation

tomato's as a ground cover and weed inhibitor
an accident brought on by chicken tractoring
and throwing them tomato scraps ... fabulous!

i never tire of the amazing world of bamboo!

the kids running and playing through the
kitchen garden

jj showing off the size of the rabbit tractor.  these
little guys do an amazing job of fertilizing
and  mowing!  they also love to eat the weeds
that are some of the most noxious and hard
to get rid of!
deep in it .... a swale that is! retaining
water and feeding the soil.
the view at Zaytuna .... glorious!

permaculture is ...

people care
earth care
fair share

Thursday, May 3, 2012

ahhhh .... compost

i am utterly convinced that making compost is good for the soul.

ha!  you don't believe me.  composting is about building up soil, replenishing and returning fabulous nutrients to the soil and using them time and time again.  and well, all i can say is that i am one happy camper as i return to compost making!

when we lived in the grand suburbia of the blue mountains west of Sydney we have a great little composting system ... using all our brown waste and splitting our food scraps between the chooks and the compost.  our garbage / waste collection each week was minimal and we truly knew that we were starting to close the loop and making much more of what we did sustainable.

we started really well when we moved bush.  trying to lay down some brown waste in plant beds and put food scraps on that and then covering with straw and planting in that.... knowing that it would all break down and make a great space for growing things.  and we've had some success with that.

but we live in a rental, and honestly, it's hard to get motivated to care for and build up soil in a place that you know you are gonna leave.  and we went off composting.  putting our food scraps and brown waste in the garbage bins .... and it felt ......


so now that JustEarth is starting to become a reality, we know that there is a lot to be done to build up the soil. the motivation has returned and we have come back to our roots.

building earth for JustEarth.

so it is with great delight that we have returned to composting .... with a new little u-beaut system.  we had to take certain things into consideration .... keeping the size of containers small so that kids can handle them as well as the stability of these containers because in the short term, we will be transporting waste from our rental out to the property (about 10 minutes out of town) is really paramount.

so i found these great food grade buckets .... woohoo!  composting has returned to the Walters household!  these are great!  and as you can see we have one that is the plastics bucket .... these go into the recycle bin. a second is paper waste .... which will get mixed with leaf litter, and the third is our food.  the blue lid is fabulous .... goes on nice and snug and comes off smoothly.

this waste will be used as part of our no back ache ruth stout system of growing (see this great article for more information.)  post on this will be forthcomng ....

and .... it feels so right to be doing this.... like i said .... good for the soul.  i know i am doing the right thing by the land, by our family .... and for JustEarth.