First Vege Beds

On the weekend we were very productive. Brodie needed some more space for his new business, The Cottage Farm. Him and his mum are growing a bit on her block of land, but that will mostly be delicate crops. So in our front yard Brodie decided to prepare 4 x 5m beds to plant roots in. This is what they looked like right after he sized them up.

He made them this size and straight because they are the same size as the beds on the other property, making it easier to net and apply compost and other amendments evenly as required. The roots crops are to be planted here as our soil is more favorable. After a bit of work and the addition of some composted cow manure, he managed to make it look like this. The beds on the right is what it looked like before.

When we did some basic soil analysis last year we found out that our soil is a clay loam, rather than a straight clay which is what we thought it was. It absorbs water beautifully and is pretty fantastic to work with.

While Brodie did all this, I worked on weeding an area and spreading wood chips over the top. Due to our busyness (laziness) we didn't spread the wood chips all over the front yard, so some weeds have appeared. This is the area I weeded and covered.

On Saturday night I watched Back To Eden, a documentary about how a man in the US placed wood chips all over his garden and the abundance it now creates. I decided to simulate this in one of my side beds. I fully weeded this area, placed the logs down and covered it again in another 5cm of wood chip. This bed will be the small tree zone that will protect our garden from the wind a bit and create some privacy from the neighbors. We also planted a few pigeon pea trees in the mix to create some quick growth. Lets hope they take off.

There are also some of the plants that I spoke about in this post planted along this area. As you can see, still haven't weeded that area up the back of the photo! I saw a red belly black snake slither into The Pile on Saturday afternoon so I decided to stay away!

Benny was very helpful yesterday by sitting on the wood chips that I was trying to get into the wheelbarrow, but who could be mad at that face?

Next weekend we will start to dig the top swale and the herb garden near the front door, weather permitting of course! We are getting lots of done at the moment and it is great to see my design coming to life.

Until next time,


First Seeds Planted!

Over the weekend, in between the heat and rain I managed to create a very useful potting area in our carport. It is in the shade so I can use it if it is raining or very sunny. Here is what it looks like. I am excited to spend more time in this area.

Now we can also fit the ute in there when there is hail predicted. Luckily the other car fits anywhere.

When it was really hot during the middle of the day I did some research from books and the internet of plants of permaculture. It was very enlightening and I found out about some trees that I had never heard of before. Did you know the fruit of the Durian tastes like chopped garlic mixed with caramel and poured into cream? Eurgh!

Later that afternoon we used the potting area and planted some vege seeds. We have it temporarily located by the front door for easy access. We will be moving our big sturdy shadehouse that was on the property to a sunnier spot and we will have seedlings there in the future. It is definitely sturdy, we dropped branches on it expecting it to break but it didn't, so we may as well give it a shot! I was cleaning up a bit at my parents and I just found a stack of other seeds that had tried to plant at their place, so I will take them back home and might get some more seeds going this weekend.

All of the plants I put out last weekend seem to be surviving ok, it was pretty hot last week but they got a good drenching in the Sunday afternoon storm. We had 55mL in about 30min. It was pretty wild!

I have been doing all this research and planting to get ready for the cooler months when we can start getting some proper infrastructure like swales in. I have been nutting out the design for the area around the house and I am getting very close...I will post about that soon.

Until next time,


First Plants in the Ground

With all the wet weather we have been having recently, I decided to bite the bullet and get some long term plants in the ground. I got myself one of each and I will propagate from them. I got them from Shipard's Nursery in Nambour, the nursery of the late Isabell Shipard who wrote so many great herb books. Her family still run the business.

The plants I got and the reasons why were:

QLD Arrowroot - edible root and quick growing carbon species
Citronella grass - to grow along the front deck and repel mosquitoes
Curry leaf tree - for cooking the leaves
Lemon Grass - for cooking and teas
Mugwort - quick growing, easy to propagate carbon species. Acts as the 'lantana' substitute in the food forest and is easy to chop and drop
Neem tree - to make organic insecticides in the future if desired
Vetiver grass - to provide a barrier from the neighbours runner lawns and add privacy
Asiatic yam - edible root
Cassava - edible root
Moringa - high protein fodder, planted near intended chicken enclosure
Icecream bean - food forest establishing species, nitrogen fixer
Passionfruit - grow along front fence to add privacy
Pinto peanut - grow under trees as nitrogen fixer. Planted under existing avocados
Candlestick tree (Senna alata) - nitrogen fixer for food forest
Betel leaf - edible leaf for vietnamese cuisine

All of these species are easy to propagate and will be my initial starters. Can't wait to have them growing more and to do some propagation in the future!

We have also been completing a path from the front door to prevent mud and gravel from getting on the front deck. Here is what it looks like so far.

Since we have had over 300mL of rain over the past 2 weeks I am very glad we put in a couple of hours on that hot day a few weeks ago to start it. The wood chip was from our own trees and the pavers were left here by the previous owner. I pressure washed them before laying them down and I think they look great. The path will look like this right up to the driveway to the left and up the centre of the future garden into the chicken area.

I have also completed the base map for our property. It is good to finally get it down on paper. I have started working on the design for the front yard so we can get some essential elements in. I hope to start putting them in soon.

Until next time,


February Update

Its been a while since I posted any progress posts, mostly because its been pretty hot so we have tried not to do too much work. In the Northern hemisphere the rest time is winter, here it is summer!

Just after New Years we got an excavator in to clean up the front yard. It had a few tree stumps and lumpy bits that made it hard to see exactly what was available to us. This is the result:

This is the pile of stumps and bits that were left behind.

Here is Brodie planting our long-suffering potted citrus trees. They were in pots for 3 years.

Two weeks ago we had a cool change come through and we had the fireplace going! In February!!! The fire wasn't really necessary but it was nice to have. During that weekend our arborist mate came around and decided to clear some of the scrub underneath the larger trees in the backyard. This is what it looked like before:

And here is what it looks like after:

And here is one of the 'grass' area finally cleared up.

Since we did that clearing we have been enjoying the wild birds and insects flying around in the new space. We have a tree (can't remember the name right now) that is attracting a lot of wildlife. Here are a few birds:

We are enjoying the antics of a pair of Richmond Birdwing Butterflies. They are threatened in our area so it is a real treat to see them in our backyard every day. I haven't taken a good photo yet, but I am trying my best!!!

Until next time,


Permaculture Design Course

These past two weeks I have been away in Maungareeda in Kin Kin, QLD. It is a permaculture property belonging to Tom and Zaia Kendall of Kendall Permaculture. I wanted to do the course there as the climate is very similar to ours and they live, work and play on the property. They produced 95% of the food we ate on site, which was really amazing to experience. It really made me think about the capabilities of my property and what grows best in our shared climate.

In the morning we fed chickens, goats and milked cows before breakfast. It was enlightening to see the healthy diet that the animals are feed rather than just the grain I usually see in rural supply stores. We had lots of class time every day with delicious food breaks in between.

The part I was most excited about seeing was a semi-established food forest. Tom went through the process of how they set it up, which is exactly what I want to do on most of our property, especially the semi-steep slope down the back. A food system that requires a chop and drop once a year and provides large amounts of food?? Count me in!!

It was a really incredible two weeks and I made some really great friends. This experience has changed me and I couldn't recommend the PDC at Kendall Permaculture more. I am looking forward to going back there someday and hopefully bringing Brodie to check it out with me. As I was having so much fun, I forgot to take any photos! But I did get this one snap as I woke up one morning. This is overlooking the food forest.

Looking forward to getting cracking on my own property.

Till next time,

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