advice for permaculturalist with a south facing courtyard

Discussion in 'General chat' started by cawooda, Jan 20, 2008.

  1. cawooda

    cawooda Guest

    Ok so there is the advice I am looking for that will help me grow produce in a rented paved small courtyard in melbourne(nothing major...just some advice about plants that produce food in shaded conditions). More importantly, my partner and I are dreaming of a property in the country where we can escape the traps of the modern economy and the impending energy crisis. What advice is there for us to make this a reality. My mind is somewhat trapped by the thick suburban walls of Melbourne. I keep thinking land=mortgage=job=proximity to the city=Delphin(god help me). there must be another way. I hope to do a PDC this year.
     
  2. Jim Bob

    Jim Bob Junior Member

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    I've been able to get 100kg/year of produce from a 2.2m x 8m backyard with raised beds, effectively 4m2 of vegie growing and 2m2 of flowers, as I discuss here.

    Soon we'll be moving to a unit with yard about 2.5m x 10m, but concrete and south-facing, in Melbourne - just like you! I intend to go to container gardening. By all accounts this takes more work (though less heavy work, like digging) but gives higher yields.

    I've had the most success with the old backyard vegie traditionals - tomatoes, silverbeet, beans, lettuce, carrots, onions, celery and herbs.

    My advice to you is to begin in your little backyard. If you cannot even grow a few tomato plants in a few pots then there's no way you're going to be keeping a smallholding. Use this time to learn the basic skills and get a feel for the rhythms of nature.

    We're used to thinking of "all I need is the right tools and everything will be okay." But rather than tools is needed the right mindset. That mindset is permaculture, to adapt ourselves to our local conditions - and yes, that includes local conditions like "south-facing concreted yard." If you can produce things in such unfavourable conditions then what can't you do? :)
     
  3. ppp

    ppp Junior Member

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    does the area receive any direct sunlight?? Can you spend a clear day on the weekend sipping cocktails (or reading a good book) and noting which (if any) areas get some direct sunlight?
     
  4. cawooda

    cawooda Guest

    Thanks for the replies

    Thanks Jim Bob,
    Your advice is spot on. I have been struggling on with what I have been given. I realize that many of my mistakes have been from a lack of experience in growing plants in general. I'm getting there with time. Some mistakes this season have included trying to fit too many plants into the containers I have, growing the wrong plant at the wrong time and not counting on the amount of space each plant will take. I am learning as I go. I've heard that in permaculture the problem is the solution. I'm still trying to apply this. I am desperate to make the most of the rest of the season but some thought and planning should carry me through.
    Winter is a worry for me because in addition to the south facing aspect, I also have really high walls. I struggled to get anything growing last winter. in effect I only have a garden bed at the back of my property with any full sun during winter. in fact the bed itself doesent get any sun. the shade from the house meets the back fence just above the corner of the bed and fence. in the middle is a non-fruiting tree and an ugly persistent and dry stump sits in one corner. last year I managed to get some sun to a pot resting on the stump.
    I am considering elaborate plans to grow annuals on the roof. This may be sensible or I may just hurt myself.
    Does anything you can eat grow in shade? do white walls help and is there another option for a rented house?
     
  5. cawooda

    cawooda Guest

    Sorry for wasting cyberspace but I wrote that last post before reading the wonderful tale of Jim Bob's garden. You are an inspiration to all urban gardeners. The post you linked me to has answered most of the questions I could have asked and puts my efforts to shame. I am only glad I persisted with the law of returns and my monthly trips to Caulfield park's free mulch pile along with the odd pile of clippings and manure. I can smell the improved health of the soil and shall hopefully have rewards in the months to come.
    Oh I may take up that cocktail idea.
    Thanks guys
     
  6. Jim Bob

    Jim Bob Junior Member

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    It's taken four years. Like I said, a lot of mistakes made, but the general trend is upward. Now I have to abandon it all. That's the real problem with rented accomodation.

    I have eight five-foot-tall tomato plants fruiting well, but they need another few weeks to grow and ripen. They won't get it. They're too big to transplant, I'll have to knock them over and dig them in.

    However, the "green waste" bin I'll use to take soil and compost to my new place. I'm going to get some use out of it all, damnit!

    Never put down your own efforts, everyone has something to learn. For example, I didn't know Caulfield park had a free mulch pile :) That's in my neck of the woods, so to speak.

    Give me an email, we may be able to meet up and teach each-other some things.
     
  7. kathleenmc

    kathleenmc Junior Member

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    Hi Cawooda and Jimbob,

    Have you thought of using a mirror or two to bring in some light? I've seen it working on a building to bring sunshine into a southern room with great effects.

    Keep up the great work and learning....

    Kathleen
     
  8. Jim Bob

    Jim Bob Junior Member

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    I've thought about it, but it didn't seem worth the trouble. The yard gets some sun, just not a lot. All that happens is that my plants grow very tall. Have you ever seen a four foot celery plant, or a three foot silverbeet? I have. They end up growing like a tree - a central trunk with bunches of "branches" (sticks and leaves) growing off. Tastes the same :)

    I don't know what the light will be like in my new place, I'll tell you in a couple of weeks!
     
  9. Tamara

    Tamara Junior Member

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    Re: advice for permaculturalist with a south facing courtyard

    Hi!

    Just some ideas...

    Morello cherry

    fungi patch

    a heliostat (like a mirror), see
    https://www.abc.net.au/tv/newinventors/txt/s1925996.htm

    chives, parsley, silverbeet, spinach etc.

    Worm farms

    Bill told us a story about a tree/vine that was "lowered as it grew, eventually sitting on the ground

    plant/seedling nursery

    see https://greenroofs.wordpress.com/photo-gallery/

    Do you have a roadside verge? extend your zone one thataway...

    love Tamara
     

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