Eco's Lodge

Discussion in 'Members' Systems' started by eco4560, Sep 8, 2010.

  1. Pink Angel

    Pink Angel Junior Member

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    You have a beautiful place and I really enjoyed reading about all the things you have done to it eco
     
  2. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    I'm learning the hard way that all that stuff in the books about zones is worth paying attention to.

    The chooks have made it back down to the beds closest to the house. Which means that it is getting close to the 2 year anniversary of the garden. I have over the past few months had a realisation that you can't have a Zone 1 that extends all the way to the back fence...

    I have been trying to look after 10 chook dome beds that extend from my back door to the back fence line and have found that I stretched myself too thin and none of them end up being looked after. So I don't notice that some things are dying and need to be replaced, or that weeds have taken over and need removing. At the moment I have 4 beds that are of any use - one I planted last weekend, one has rosellas in it that should be ready for harvest soon, and two others that have amaranth and okra (but even they are 50% weeds and the other 50% of the plants that I put in with them never made it). The others have been taken over by rouge pumpkins, or cobblers pegs.

    I have decided that I need to keep the 4 chook dome beds that are closest to the house for the seasonal veges and work hard at getting the best out of them, and use the other areas for more perennials and self seeding annuals and so on.

    Which means that I'll have to find somewhere else to house the chooks when they aren't needed in the dome. I want them fairly close to the house so I can keep an ear out for them at night, and so I don't start to ignore them because they are too far to walk up to visit easily. I've picked a spot that is where my new smaller zone 1 joins an area that is currently home to fruit trees and weeds - zone 2. There's an established tree there (not sure what it is) to provide shade for them. The real challenge is that I'm completely unskilled in construction! I want to try to use recycled stuff to build it with and end up with something that actually looks pretty good. This could take a while....

    Permasculptor came a few weekends ago and walked around my place with me in the rain. Then we came in and looked at my plans. Then walked around in the rain some more before coming back to look at plans again! I had a grand plan to turn a large chunk of the yard into 4 separate chook runs opening off their new home, but once Permasculptor kindly patted me on the head and told me that I didn't really want that much work, he suggested that I can make simple temporary yards for the chooks during the day, and move them to the next patch of weeds when I want to. Once I slept on it a bit it his suggestion seemed like a much better idea than my original one.

    We also came up with the great idea to use the chooks to make swales. I've even thought of a nifty name - CAMS - chicken assisted micro swales! The idea is to make sure that the bottom fence of the temporary run in perfectly on contour (and I'll put them just above a fruit tree each time). The chooks will scratch everything down hill against the fence and build up a mound for me. I can then dig out a small ditch just above that to add to the pile they scratch up and there you have it! Chicken swales. I've got to figure out what to plant them up with next...

    One of Permasculptor's other ideas was to plant more deciduous trees to generate leaf litter. I'm seriously thinking about a Pecan.... Still researching my other options. Suggestions welcome!

    I've been feeling very glum about the garden since getting home from holidays over Christmas. It seems to be taking more work and giving me less reward this year. I've been pondering why that is and what I need to do about it. Hence the "Things to be grateful for" photo session. I have realised that I haven't been very tidy over the past year. The garden stakes and bits of string that I used to tie stuff up have been left more or less where I dumped them when I pulled them out. There are broken bits of plastic buckets and bags that I was too lazy to put in the rubbish that I keep stepping over. And bag after bag full of Singapore Daisy waiting to go in the work farm sitting more or less where I left it when I filled it. It dawned on me that if I treated my bedroom the same way that I'd be having nightmares!

    So the plan for the weekend is to get out there and clean out all the rubbish. And pull out the feral pumpkin that is growing across my back deck. It seemed sort of cute to have it there but it isn't setting fruit anyway and it is starting to annoy me having to step over it every time I walk out the back door.

    Then I need to stand on the back deck and work out what is in my line of vision and what I need to do to make that look good. After all that is what will fill my vision each morning when I step out there. I seem to remember someone saying somewhere - start at the back door and work out. (It might even have been me! Much easier to give advice than follow it.)

    So I'm going to do a bit of plant shopping this weekend, and have a look around the yard and see what I can propagate to use in the space between my back door and the planned chook house. Like the really pretty native violet hiding beside the jasmine vine.

    Stepping out of the garden and into the outside world... A friend of mine who goes to Sunshine Coast Uni gave me a heads up about a lunchtime lecture series where a Uni lecture talks about something of interest. So yesterday I rocked on up and sat in on Morag Gamble who talked about "Food and Sustainability - food politics, food sovereignty and community food systems." Morag has lived at the Crystal Waters eco-village for 13 years, and is a lecturer in Food Politics. (Who would have guessed that there was such a thing!) For me it was a bit like preaching to the converted as I knew the sorts of messages that she covered already, but it was still refreshing to see someone bringing it to a mainstream audience. The take home quote for me was "by eating, we take the history and politics of food into our bodies". One of her websites is localfood.net.au - a 15 minute movie that she has produced. Might be a good one for a Transition Town night.

    Then to top it all off I headed up the road for the Permaculture Noosa meeting. The first speaker (who's name escapes me at present) is an indigenous chef who talked about bush tucker. There were lots of things to touch and smell and even taste (lemon myrtle cheesecake - YUM!). The surprise ingredient for me was ground, roasted wattle seed. I had heard of it but thought it must be like sesame seeds (bit boring) but it smells like coffee / chocolate / nuts all mixed together. And it's the common as muck old Brisbane Wattle (acacia fimbriata) that I have in my back yard! Now I can't wait for it to set seed so I can have a go at making it myself.

    Then Tom, one of the locals, showed pictures from his place and talked about his swales - how he made them, what works for him and so on. It was really interesting to see how he has identified his water problems and designed solutions that actually work really well.

    So - now the challenge is to take a fresh look at my place and design my way out of the emotional doldrum that I've made for myself.
     
  3. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Sunburn I have 2 stands of bananas and next to one I have made a Purple Pear inspired compost heap which I leave uncovered. The one next to the compost pile is twice the size of the other. It seems to soak up all the leached nutrients.

    Thanks Pink!
     
  4. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Compost near the bananas sounds like a great idea. Though i've not actually got any compost piles at the moment. I've had to raid them all to make mulch. Mulch seemed more urgent to me after all than compost. Perhaps i just need to find some mulch for my bananas. I know, and a bag of old horse poo.

    I do like these long reflective posts on people's gardens. I wish more people would do them.

    About your chicken houses. I totally understand any trepidation you may feel about building one of these. You could just make a larger more permanent dome as you already know how to do that. Instead of the white plastic pipe you use, you could use black poly pipe which is pretty strong. And inexpensive. Though that would mean you'd have to buy it. Otherwise, a structure that i thought would be nice would be an arch made using corrugated iron as the roofing material. I would base it around (or over) a 4-posted square. This would work quite well at my place though i don't know about yours. I'd still use shade cloth for the back wall here and also the front. But chicken wire would be fine too. I came up with this idea when thinking about the look of the chook house because ours is quite close to the house and i want to put in a seating area near by because its nice to sit near the ducks at the end of the day and watch them. And so i thought the chook house should look good - better than it does that's for sure. And the iron would give more protection from the rain. The wooden frame would need beams in addition to the posts and probably some strut things to keep them square. And probably other structural members. And using this design, i could have more than one room which i really need because the different generations of ducks benefit from being kept apart. And also i want guinea fowl later on. This design would benefit from a shade tree as well or even a creeping vine.

    There's no doubt that growing food is a lot of work. Growing anything if you don't want weeds over taking as well. And if you don't use round up. I hope that when my sister comes to live here that she will take an interest and help me maintain it. Meanwhile, i've no choice but to let some it be wild until it can be totally controlled.

    For your back door, what about nasturtiums, or is that too common. Have you got a pond for water lilies? That is practically maintenance free.


    Regarding the zones and managing everything, i keep intending to divide up the whole garden into maintenance sections and work it all in a sequence one day at a time. I've done the divvying up but i haven't really been doing the rostered work yet. Still i think its a good idea cause then you can just ignore the other sections for the other days in the roster. My roster is about two weeks. But also i've got more time than you and i dont mind walking all over the place to check on things. In fact, i like it. Still there are some areas at the moment, where i just walk through and notice how out of control its become. But its not as if you have to spend hours down there. Even if its 10 minutes or just a hand ful of weeds i do, that's a good start as far as i'm concerned. I find just doing this much even can motivate me and make me feel better anyway.
     
  5. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    LOVE nasturtiums - I have yellow ones and orange ones and white ones and I just bought seed for reds. But it's the time of year when the old plants have died down and the new ones are just starting up again, so not so much nasturtium joy happening here at present.
    I have 2 ponds - one has water chestnut and a purple "elephant ears" type thing. The other is my frog pond. I keep looking out for sacred lotus to come on sale at Green Harvest as I'd really like one to go in the frog pond....
    The tidying up over the weekend has been very good for me actually! It's not quite finished yet... (it's like the washing up - there's always more as soon as you are done!). I cleared all the stuff off the back deck that I had mentally been not seeing for months. I've weeded and tidied up dead stuff from the beds closest to the deck, and laid down cardboard and sat a compost bin on top of a bare spot and filled it with the weeds I pulled out. Once this lot is ready I'll spread it there and cover it with hay mulch and then plant it up. I need parsley - all died in the wet, and I think I'll plant my basil there rather than the chook beds. My rosemary and lavender died in the wet too - next time they are going in the wooden planter box on the back deck that currently has mint in it. It's too dry for the mint to do well in so it should be perfect for rosemary. I've planted out some of the mint next to paths as a fragrant ground cover. I know it might take over a bit, but I'd rather stomp all over mint than grassy weeds any day!
    I then went hunting for stuff to propagate - and found rose and lime geranium, a nice ornamental ginger that seems to like the shade (not sure if that one will work...), a whole heap of pots of native violet, and more day lillies. That was part of the tidying up job as the flowers are almost all finished so I needed to chop the flower heads off, and I can't bear to throw out the little plantlets that grow off the flower stems. I have noticed that the lillies are really shallow rooted and when planted densely no weeds get a foot hold between them. So more of those is good! They also look like they'll be easy enough to remove if I change my mind later. I had a pile of pots with a fern that was growing in my rock wall that I had prised out months ago and potted up and agaves that my Mum and daughter had potted up to sell at markets that had become root bound. They all went into a tricky corner that I call the Cave. It's a narrow bit of ground in between the 2 wings of the house that has really shallow soil (on bedrock), gets minimal direct sun, and little rain as the eaves protect much of the ground. So they went in there. The agave is as tough as old boots so it should survive, and the fern was growing almost on bare rock so it should be OK too.
    I find it easy to get distracted by pulling weeds out, and forget to plant stuff. So today reversed that trend. It also helps that my main compost pile is officially full so I have to lay off pulling out weeds for a month or so until it rots down a bit and I will then move it to the "finishing off" pile under the banana. I really can't imagine not having a compost pile....
    I even got around to finally spraying all the citrus with white oil. It'll take another weekend or two to really get the immediate zone 1 situation under control, but already I feel better stepping out onto the back deck. I really have to keep reminding myself to be PRESENT when I'm out there and be aware when it needs work, and plan for it to be pretty and productive.
     
  6. Terra

    Terra Moderator

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    I justify letting the weeds get out of hand by knowing i can always find something for the chooks . And i must do a cleanup too been stepping over stuff for too long .
     
  7. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    Just did a clean up out there today ECO. I do them more regularly than I used to but your reminder was timely. Thanks
     
  8. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Your welcome. Looks like I've inspired a big "autumn" clean up!
     
  9. daozen

    daozen Junior Member

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    well, I just went through you pblog, it's amazing how you took it from brown emptyness to loads of green beauty. Quite inspiring, I like the use of rocks, very aestheticaly pleasing. So how many different species are there now?
     
  10. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    I wouldn't even contemplate counting! Well over 100 plant species.
     
  11. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    I love your pictures "Eco"...I been following your photo progress over a few months or more(not that im stalking you) lol...Ive posted pics also.

    Its great looking back over the years,JUST TO SHOW how much a place can change as the seasons change and the years change.......CHANGE is from day one.... ONE good think about permaculture,is that,it can change hour by hour allmost,shadows by shadows,birds and animals,clouds or no clouds,
    rain or sunshine..

    Tezza
     
  12. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Thanks Tezza. Life's been really hectic lately so I'm only just keeping ahead of feeding and moving the chooks, and the absolute necessities in the garden - like pulling out all the rice bean I had in as a green manure crop because it was starting to flower! Very soon I should have lots more spare garden time and then the place will really start to hum!
     
  13. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Big weekend in the garden at my place. The chooks have just moved on from the first bed that is about to become a more permanent garden rather than being a bed in the rotation. There's an east facing slope just below this, and nothing has done really well there as it is always dry. So - I've installed my first swale! I've been putting off doing it thinking that it would be hard, but it was easier than expected. First I used a A frame to find the level and marked it out. Then I dug a trench one spade deep and mounded up the soil on the down hill side. I ran the hose into it for half an hour - a few adjustments needed to be made as it wasn't quite level - and the water soaked in so fast that it never got more than an inch deep.

    Below this I've planted a pecan tree. There's plenty of sun here, and it'll drop its leaves onto the path so I can use them as mulch. Under it I've planted garlic chives and allium bulbs, Pinto peanut, and clover to make a guild of sorts. Day lilies and marigolds too, just because they are nice!

    The vege bed has cassava, sweet pea, bell peppers (thanks permasculptor!), zucchini, cauliflower (third try - never had any success with them before - fingers crossed), dill, lupins, and borage. All watered in with home made sea weed brew.

    As the sun started to set I dropped a banana tree to harvest the big bunch that was just starting to ripen, and dug up a bucket of sweet potato. Beats going grocery shopping!
     
  14. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    Just fabulous Eco - a big day and I bet the satisfaction was great.
     
  15. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    I like this swale building! Made another one last weekend - just above the lychee tree. I needed to transplant a few fruit trees - 2 are inside the area that is going to be the new chook run (when I get around to it...) and I thought it would be better to move them than have to chook proof them. There was a finger lime and a Burdekin Plum. I have a custard apple just below my biggest compost pile and it hasn't done so well. In fact it is the second one that I have planted here and the last one turned into a stick. Mental note to self - when a tree dies it might be best to NOT replace it with the exact same type! So it and the other 2 trees have been shifted to just below the new swale. I think I've killed the plum in the process, and stressed the custard apple, but the finger lime seems happier.

    Today was a big seed planting day. I've been putting off doing it, but am running out of seedlings to plant out. Beans, beans and more beans - Madagascar beans, snake beans, climbing beans - some to eat as fresh beans and some to dry, bush beans. Shallots - hopefully they'll work as onion replacements. I still can't grow onions and I'm starting to blame my climate (it's easier to accept than thinking that it might be ME!). Kohl rabi and Bok choy, lettuce, tomato, leek, capsicum. And some pigeon pea and crotolaria - because there is no such thing as too many legume trees for chopping and dropping.

    And as the sun set I added more to the compost pile. If the sun never went down I think I'd forget to go inside and eat....
     
  16. purecajn

    purecajn Junior Member

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    Never heard of Crotolaria. Wikipedia lists many different varieties and lists it as toxic too cattle. Was wondering if any of the Crotolaria varieties are safe for human consumption, or if the plant is strictly for green manure/chop-n-drop? Also, are they all trees/shrubs?
     
  17. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

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    Hi Eco,
    Try the bunching onions even if you do have success with the other ones.
    This sort are more or less perennial.
     
  18. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    I agree mischief - they seem to just go on and on. We have put them in the boxes from time to time, more as a leek than the regular onion.
     
  19. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    I haven't managed to get my hands on any plant material to get a crop of bunching onions going, but I've got my eyes peeled.

    Purecajn the crotolaria is just for chop and dropping. It is a small shrub, not quite as big as pigeon pea, and it's leguminous. It also has pretty yellow flowers - so that ticks three "uses" for me. It grows really well here through the warmer months so I get to attack it with the secateurs regularly.
     
  20. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    It's my Birthday and I'll Garden if I want to :party:

    'Twas a lovely day. I got to have a sleep in, and started the day with bacon and eggs, freshly pressed apple juice from locally grown apples from the farmers market and a cuppa, while sitting on the back deck. The cat came and sat with me, while I pondered which job was the most pressing.
    The weather was perfect for gardening - clear blue sky with fluffy white clouds, but cool enough to not get all hot and sweaty while working hard. And I had no one demanding my attention (apart from the cat who didn't like the food on offer).
    So today's task was to do some work around the meditation dome. The sweet potato is so rampant that it keeps spilling over into the paved area and every 6 weeks or so I cut it back. I decided I need an edge guild to keep it out! So with the area cleared I laid down a perimeter of paper. All those annoying property magazines that keep ending up on my drive in front of the NO JUNK MAIL sign..... Then a layer of sheep poo - I'm going to go back for more of this - it's like pelletized manure without using petro chemicals to make it like that. Then a thick layer of compost. It isn't my best compost, and it'll probably spring forth with weeds. Never mind. Then a layer of mulch hay to finish it off.
    I marked out the compass points and planted sugar cane. My mum and my son found a round side stand of it yesterday while out on a driving lesson and returned with a boot load of it. Half way between these I planted citronella grass. That came from Tulipwood's place. She thought it was lemon grass, but it is nothing like mine, so I think it is citronella. In between the grasses went ginger, turmeric and galangal. I tucked some thyme in to spill over the rock wall. I hope that all this grows up to make an interesting hedge that keeps the sweet potato runners on the outside. It'll give me chop and drop material too.
    The next job of the day was to sort out the southern boundary of my property. There's an empty block next door (still for sale if anyone fancies living next door to a crazy permie woman....) and I've been working on getting an edge guild of arrowroot, various grasses and comfrey along there to keep the grass out, and eventually the neighbours animals. Two years ago I bought 20 corms of arrowroot from Green Harvest. That did about a quarter of the length of that edge. Last year I lifted and divided them and added the comfrey, lemon grass and vetiver. That got me about 2/3rds of the way along. Today I lifted about 8 big arrowroot plants and was able to finally remove the last section of green weed barrier and planted these and more citronella grass, and mulched it all. The comfrey and existing grasses and the arrowroot got a serious chop and drop too. It should look pretty good in 2 years when it has time to thicken up.
    Then I went over to a friends place to look at her new house, had a cuppa and a home made muffin and a laugh. Came home and made potato and leek soup (my potatoes and leeks aren't ready yet - these came from the farmers market), and finished the meal off with stewed apple and rhubarb - also from the market).
    Lots to be thankful for, and hope there are many more days like this one.
     

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