Front Yard Landscaping

G'Day everyone,

Unfortunately I have been completely unaware of all the changes that Blogger has been making and I have missed everyone comments since May! I just assumed no one was reading which is a bit sad! I am glad to find everyone's comments finally and I will respond a bit quicker from now, promise!

Usually we have a big push to do something when we get fed up of looking at it. This time it was the bank between the pool and the house. This is an old photo that I found from back in April. I left the plants there because they apparently produce edible roots. We found that they were little knobbly hairy things, not worth the plant space! There was also a heap of cobblers pegs and other weedy plants.


I had tried to previously plant some perennial greens in the area. We suspect that most of the pile is subsoil from when the pool was dug out so they didn't go very well. We decided instead to grow some natives there as the soil is so poor it wasn't worth growing anything edible. It is also very steep so I didn't want to grow something that would make us trek up and down the slope and cause damage. We went to our local Landcare native nursery and bought some small shrubs and groundcovers.

First we pulled all of the plants out.


By the way that is our new house external colour. The blue hasn't been painted yet. It will be the same grey as the trim. Those logs are holding up some of the slope as there is a flat pad up the top. This is part of Benny's racetrack.

Then we spent a bit of time cleaning up the small rock wall at the bottom. This is something we have around a lot of around our gardens. We have a lot of rocks!


We laid a thick layer of newspaper and topped it with mulch. We went with newspaper here because we thought cardboard might slide down the slope.


After we finished the area, we put our new plants straight in and watered them.


A day well spent! Hopefully the plants can get established this summer.

In other news, Brodie's small farm, The Cottage Farm, has been going great guns. Here is a photo I have of Benny and I sitting on the ute while Brodie waters his crops. There is a lot more in the ground already from when I took this photo.



He is getting great yields out of his beds so far and has new chefs coming on board. Now we just have to wait for everything to grow. It should pick up now that it is a bit warmer.

Until next time,

Kat



Beyond the War on Invasive Species: A Book Review (Part 2)


In one of my previous posts I wrote about my experience reading Beyond the War on Invasive Species: A Permaculture Approach to Ecosystem Restoration by Tao Orion. These are the next phases in the analysis of an invasive species.

Phase 3: Make a Plan

It is time to plan for your ecosystem based on all of the information and observations collected so far. The previous two phases were information gathering and now we will put it all together. See my previous post for the details.

Identify Long Term Goals

Here are some questions to help you to see if the ‘weed’ can be useful in your situation.
What is the goal for the site? Think in terms of five, fifty and five hundred years. This will probably be beyond what you have planned for your property but needs to be considered.
What is the management plan? Think of methods like mulching, fire, mowing, grazing.
Are there local codes? Where we are, we can’t burn piles larger than 1m3 without a permit.
Who are the stakeholders? What are their concerns and opinions? Think neighbours etc.
Can the invasive species be used usefully? Such as compost or mulch.
Can some of the invasive species be left for long term observation?

Take the Long View

When considering removing an invasive species we have to think about the possible long-term function of the species. Species can be considered invasive due to there being no obvious natural “checks and balances”. However due to our rapidly changing climate there may be use for the plant in the future. This really spun me on my head as we are so convinced to believe ‘put native plants everywhere’, but is it really the best option for the ecosystem in the future?

Maximise Diversity

Diverse ecosystems are more stable over time. We should allow for many different structures within the new ecosystem design to prevent possible invasions in the future. Think of a forest where there are plants that occupy different levels within the ecosystem.

Use Appropriate Technology

By using the correct techniques, we can prevent invasions from reoccurring. By cutting plants back or burning them instead of pulling them up, we can avoid disturbing soils which can cause follow on invasions.

Use Biological Resources

By using grazing animals instead of mowing to control invasive species we can obtain a yield. There are many biological resources we can use to our advantage.

Consider Relative Location

By considering zoning not only within your property but also within your region we can come up with better solutions. Maybe there is an area around the corner that has a different situation.

Be Realistic: Quick Fix-Retrofit-Ultimate Permaculture

We have to consider the solutions that may be suitable for the short term but maybe not the long term. This is to cover the possible eventuality of not dealing with the root cause of the invasive species. This is something I am facing at the moment. By clearing my lantana, what am I achieving? Another invasion of something else?

The Problem is the Solution

Consider alternate uses for the invasive species. Maybe it can solve a problem within a different ecosystem.

Anticipate Slow Variables

By designing the ability to change within your plan then if conditions change all bases are covered.

Phase 4: Implementation

Wise Resource Use

Within permaculture, resources can be categorised into the following:
·       Increase with use
·       Be lost when not used
·       Be unaffected by use
·       Be lost by use
·       Pollute or degrade systems with use
We want to try and achieve a regenerative approach rather than destructive.

Obtain a Yield

By becoming producers rather than consumers we can use the invasive species to our advantage.

Use and Value the Marginal

By considering alternate uses of marginal land we can create new ecosystems or economies by utilising invasive species. The author has a great example in the book of a very creative use of swampland.

In a future post I will go through an example of a weed species on my property. I hope this has helped someone to think about the ‘weeds’ we have come to know and think about them a bit differently.
Until next time,
Kat

Twenty Five

A couple of weeks ago I celebrated my twenty-fifth birthday. We went to a delicious dinner at Harry's on Buderim and I was totally spoilt by Brodie. I thought haven't done an update on here for a while, so here we go!

Brodie has had his other Carpal Tunnel surgery done and is now almost completely recovered. It has been a good experience for him and he is now getting his strength back. While he has been recovering, he has been scoping out properties to lease to expand his small farm business. He has now broken ground on a place 10 minutes from us owned by a fellow in his nineties. In exchange for using his land we will be helping him with some jobs around the property such as cutting firewood. 

To prepare the block we had to slash a lot of very tall lantana. Luckily the owner of the property had a very sturdy old tractor that could get through most of it. After this we had a big tractor come through with a rotary hoe to break up the root systems on the patch that Brodie will be starting with first. The soil is wonderful and loamy. He has already planted twelve 20m long rows with some of his best crops.

We have also been doing a lot of propagating, for some short lived tree crops to plant on the property. Both of the trees grow very well in our area so we are hoping that after the initial settling in stage we will just be able to harvest for a couple years until the trees are spent.

Some of the other things we have been up to includes attending the Lifeline Bookfest in Brisbane. I can tell you now, this place is my heaven! We picked up heaps of farming and gardening books while we were there. I spent probably $150 and that was all we could carry!


We have planted some summer seeds. I want to have our property producing more of our own food to reduce on grocery bills. We went to the Queensland Garden Expo in Nambour and picked up some seeds while we were there. Most of them will be tomatoes I think. We had already planted some winter seedlings that we bought and now we are harvesting broccoli and cabbage. I think I will make some Sauerkraut this weekend.



While we were at the Garden Expo we entered a competition for a solar inverter, and we won! So we had a solar system installed last week, minus the cost of the inverter. Pretty happy!

I bought a new (to us) car. We had an old petrol Hilux which doesn't have enough grunt for what we need to do. So we bought a 2010 Isuzu D-Max for a good price and with lots of extras.


We have also been given a loan from the bank to complete some renovations on our property. Although it isn't as much as we would have liked we have lots of plans already. 

We are planning on updating the kitchen and bathroom a bit, painting the exterior of the house (currently 2 colour schemes) and putting some items to make our spare room a bit more comfortable and hopefully rent it out.
As you can see we have been very busy, I will try and update a bit more, especially with the house renovation stuff.

Until next time,

Kat

Benny looking sharp in his knitted vest
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