I can't promise to be a regular with updates as Mischief - but here's a description of my place and how I got here and where I might be going. I built MY house almost 2 years ago - the first I've built from scratch (well I had a builder build it that is), and had fun doing it MY way. So it is energy / light efficient - and it actually works. There's no aircon and I really didn't miss it last summer. I have gas cooking, solar hot water and a 1 KW back to grid system for energy, a Nubian grey water system, and lots of rain water tanks - and I'm on town water and electricity. I have a see through roof over my bath tub so I can lie there at night and see the stars and the moon. The house is on 1750 m2 of land on the side of a hill - high on the west and sloping down as you go east and south. The soil is pretty good, rocky and slightly on the clay side of loam. As the build was well under way I started (pre - permaculture "aha" moment) to think about what I was going to do with the garden.... A little vege patch in one of those cute rain water tanks, a little herb garden by the back deck, some gingers and strelitzia's, some native shrubs, a cactus garden, a water feature and a place to sit I thought. I worried about how much time I had to devote to it all, and didn't want to have to mow up and down the hill. THEN the moment happened - I was in a shop and Linda Woodrow's Permaculture Home Garden book said BUY ME NOW (books do that to me...) I couldn't put it down! I kept interrupting other people's conversations and saying - "let me read you what she says about pests - this is so good". And I knew I had to do it! My architect just happened to know a landscaper with a PDC, who came and sat and helped me come up with a plan - that involved lots of rock walls to get me level areas so I could have my chook dome and matching circular garden beds, and the removal of all the grass which was replaced with mulch. I distinctly recall telling him that I couldn't imagine that I'd want more than 10 fruit trees (I think I'm up to 40 now....) So the way the system works - looking straight up the hill from my back deck the lowest level has a herb garden on the left and my daughter's cactus collection on the right, with strawberries just as you step off the deck on either side. The next level has 4 circular beds in a straight line (I don't have enough flat land to do the pretty circular mandala), with citrus trees in between each, and a fledgling rhubarb plant. Then there's another narrow level - which I want to plant medicinal herbs into eventually - but the soil is quite poor there, so at present I have put straw bales along the lower edge and back filled behind them with compost ingredients and have planted nasturtiums in them. Once it rots down I'll try my herbs. Then there's another wider level that is under the shade of a big tree. There's a bath tub pond on that level and 3 more circular beds. Then another narrow level with fruit trees in it. Then another wide level with another 3 beds, then above that yet again more fruit trees and at the very top a 20,000 L rain water tank. I've also got a few pigeon peas tucked in where I can fit them. On the south side of the house (shady) I'm working on a fragrant garden as that is under the bedroom windows. Gardenia, jasmine, frangipani, geranium and pineapple sage are in there so far. I've just completed planting a long edge guild at the very south edge of the property with arrowroot, lemon grass and vetiver and comfrey. On the north sunny side I have more fruit trees, and I'm starting to add some flowering natives to bring birds into the garden. There's a new big wooden fence along that edge that I'm going to grow a choko and whatever else I can cover it with. There are some large existing trees long the fence line at the top of the hill so I'm trying to find stuff that will do OK in the shade. There's another pond in construction on that side too - for frogs I hope. I don't get any in the bath pond. At the front there's a steep slope down to the neighbours which I've started sweet potato on. The purple top weeds are thriving there at present... I've got to get another edge guild going there too. I have 2 worm farms and 8 chooks in my dome. The spend 2 - 3 weeks on each of the 10 beds so it takes them 6 months to do the loop around and get back to where they started. When I started dreaming of gardens I worried about whether I would find the time, or resent being tied to it, but I have found so much pleasure in it that I've turned into quite the home body. A good weekend now consists of about 15 hours of undisturbed garden time! I have a big patch of Singapore Daisy that ticked me off for a while. But I've now got a really good system in place and I'm starting the worry about the day when I run out of it! I pull it out by hand and run it though the mulcher. Then it goes into a plastic bag on top of the rain water tank in the sun for a few weeks. Then I stick it in a large plastic bucket and soak it in water for another 2 weeks. I decant the resulting weed tea and use it diluted around the garden as a tonic - don't really know if it does anything but it sure smells like it should! The left over solids then go in the worm farm - they seem to like it. After a few weeks in there I tip it into the compost bit as I reckon that after all that it won't sprout again! I've also discovered that making compost heaps is better that psychotherapy, and cheaper. I had little plastic ones at first, but they just didn't cut the mustard. I now have 2 BIG heaps affectionately called the Purple Pear Patented Permaculture Pine Plank Pile (the details are over at Mandala Town with pictures), as well as my two little plastic compost bin piles. You can never have too much compost! All it really needs now is time, and more of what it already happening to fill in the empty bits of ground. I can't wait until the fruit trees reach maturity and I can stop going to the shops.