Our New Addition to the Family

Welcome to the family, Benny!



Benny is a kelpie border collie cross, and is an absolute sweetheart! Looking forward to adventures with him!

My 'City Patch'

Last week on Instagram I posted a photo of my snow pea plants with an abundance of delicious snow peas to pick and eat. I thought I would clarify what my ‘city patch’ is a bit more.



As I still work in Brisbane, I live at my parent’s place for 3 nights a week to cut down on my commuting time from the Sunshine Coast. They had a strip of soil next to their driveway that wasn’t being used, so I thought I would use it for a micro vege patch. It has easy access to water and is probably the only area at my parent’s place that gets regular sunlight. It has a heavy clay soil with varying amounts of gravel. It consists mostly of subsoil, so it is a very challenging area to grow in!


Due to the poor soil I have struggled to grow a significant amount of vegetables, but it is improving slowly. I have seen worms present and I am constantly adding compost and manure. The only things I’ve managed to grow really well are tomatoes, basil, peas and potatoes. I haven’t harvested the potatoes yet, but the plants look very healthy so I have high hopes. I should find out what kind of soil these plants like to see if there is a similarity.

Even though I don’t grow much in my micro vege patch, it is a great way to get my hands dirty after a long day in a windowless office. I always feel more earthed and relaxed when I am pulling weeds or watering my plants. The snow peas and bush peas are one of my first good crops after almost a year of struggling with the soil. Onwards and upwards?



Because I am enjoying the current produce so much, I made a garden salad for my work lunch to enjoy with some Japanese okonomiyaki that I made with my little cabbage. In the salad was all homegrown by me and had lettuce, spring onion, snow peas and peas. It tasted really fresh and makes me want to put in a vege patch at our place very soon! 

Deep Winter Agrarian Gathering 2017

This past weekend we had the privilege of attending the Deep Winter Agrarian Gathering held in Bangalow, NSW. Deep Winter is an un-conference of small scale organic farmers and farmers friends which was attended by 200 folks this year from all over the country. It was really great to speak to so many like minded people and I had a really fantastic time. Brodie and I went with the rest of the Falls Farm crew.

On Friday a farm tour was organised to see 4 farms in the Byron Bay area. We started off the day at the Mullumbimby Farmers Market with a breakfast of delicious Japanese food. I also picked up some creamy brie to have with fresh bread for lunch.


The first stop on the farm tour was The Farm at Byron Bay, which was a really interesting business model. All of the enterprises there were tenants and the farmers supplied the restaurant. The produce would have almost non-existent food miles and be extremely fresh. It is a good deal for the farmers and the restaurant.



The second stop was Boonluck Farm in the Byron hinterlands. They supply restaurants in Sydney owned by Palissa and her family. The head gardener follows the work of Dr Elaine Ingham and he is an extremely knowledgeable man who knew all about soil biology and how to encourage fungal growth in the soil. I think everyone who attended learnt a lot in the time and I certainly have some more research to do.


The third place where we also had lunch was the Mullumbimby Community Gardens. It was on a 5 acre block which is quite unusual for a community garden. It was encouraging to see so many locals had plots in the gardens. Joel from Future Feeders showed us his permaculture market garden and how he is planning on working together with other small plot farmers in the area.



The fourth and final spot was at Life Force Organics on the flood plains near Mullumbimby. They used high tech irrigation that the farmer could turn on remotely and monitor the weather. They also had heavily used weedmats on the growing area which I haven't experienced before. It was good to see but I probably wouldn't do it myself due to the cost and also the embodied energy used to produce the plastic. Plus all my plants would bake in the summer!


We had a really great discussion back at the house and stayed up late drinking Victoria's wine Konpira Maru which was so delicious. She has started using local Queensland grapes, which is uncommon in Australian wine and was very nice to drink.

After a slow morning on Saturday we eagerly headed up to the Bangalow hall to begin the 'un-conference'. After the moving welcome to country, there were a variety of different topics presented and discussed and included topics like Land Access, Organic Certification, Distribution Models, Marketing, Customer Relationships and Young Farmer Mentorships. All of the sessions ended up like a discussion group as there was a lot of different situations in the rooms and we learnt a lot from each others experiences. It is so heartening to see so many young farmers trying to get into farming, and some doing exceedingly well. We met a few farmers near Brisbane as well that we would like to tee up with in the future.

Saturday night was the social at Byron Creek Farm. They had massive amounts of salads and roast veges, and had cooked multiple chickens and a suckling pig on the spit. I loved eating so much super local produce. It was an extremely productive and inspiring weekend. My head is full of ideas and knowledge and I have a lot of things to look into. Looking forward to what the future holds and to get going on our property!




Permaculture Concept: Keeping Material On Site

An important self-sufficiency measure used in permaculture is using materials available on site. This can be applied to many aspects of permaculture, but at the moment we are aiming to try and keep  as much organic material on site as possible. As we moved forward with our permaculture property, we realised that there are many trees on the property that we can use for organic matter rather than importing materials from outside of the property.

We have been using a chipper to chip the material mulch so we can return carbon and nutrients to the soil. The soil is a beautiful red volcanic soil, but has a high clay content. Adding more organic matter will not go astray.

Since we bought our property we have cut down a number of small trees and a particularly large one. We cut down a large leopard tree near our back deck as it had 5 or more trunks and one fell down because it was rotten right through. To prevent the tree from falling onto our house it had to go.

Before

After
As a result of cutting down the tree, it has let more morning sunlight, which passively heats our loungeroom in the winter resulting in less firewood required to keep our house warm. We decided to keep the logs to use for hugelkultur or slope stabilisation. I saw a photo recently where logs were used to build a swale and soil put on top, as giant hugelkultur. We have a large sloped area so we may incorporate it into our design.




















This is the pile resulting from all of the clearing we have done so far:

At the moment we are not ready to start building soils for vegetables or fruit trees, so the mulch will be used to suppress weeds where we have cleared, and to keep the soil healthy.

There is lots of small to medium weed trees on our property, which includes Chinese Elm, Privet, Camphor Laurel and Umbrella trees. There are also 4 or 5 very large Cadaghi trees. By removing the weed trees we will prevent them being spread by birds along the creek. By the time we cut them all down and mulch them up we will have plenty of organic matter to help build our permaculture paradise.
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