Sweat is the best fertilizer.

Discussion in 'Members' Systems' started by jannie, Jan 4, 2017.

  1. jannie

    jannie New Member

    Jan 3, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    After many years saving up for a piece of land we finally did it.

    We bought a typical NZ paddock that has been repeatedly stocked with cows and grass for baleage.
    In terms of diversity there is a great variety of grasses which I find rather fascinating. :)
    The land is narrow, 50m wide and a couple of hundred a long.It ended up this way because of council law and minimum subdivisions etc.

    A couple of fruit trees are still around after being repeatedly battered by 140km/h winds. Have I mentioned it's in Wellington NZ ? Most blossoms blow away and the trees have been heavily irrigated with greywater piped from the house and a bio-septic tank so although fruit tree roots are pretty shallow these are very shallow, lazy from too much water and I suspect without mulching will not manage well in a dry season.

    We still had a good frost in what is meant to be spring, around late November.

    Since I had some years to prep for permaculture plans, I had some ideas but honestly planning and reality are very different things.

    1 - "Ponds \ earthworks" , Machinery is not as cheap as in Aus and earthworks start at 200$/h (6 tonne digger).
    Given the cost of earthworks this wasn't done. So ponds is pending finance so to speak.
    2 - Turning your biggest problem into the biggest solution as the permie way would have it , that would be wind.
    I started planting trees for windbreaks, around 150 trees in total with a 80/20 split for light feeders and about 60/40 for heavy feeders. So for 10sqm of stonefruit I would have 16sqm of support, I settled with Italian Alder, Honey Locust, Acacias, and then scattered with tree lucerne.

    Most of the trees have been girdled, i.e. eaten by possums, hares and hedgehogs. I have to say that a success against this was bone salve, once I applied that it completely stopped. (I was a little skeptic to be honest). The total cost probably less than 20$. (less one pot because you cannot seem to get the smell out of cookware).

    3 - Grass, grass and grass, the stuff is relentless. One would think, sure let's get one of those chicken fences like in the videos. Electric fence only works if you have grass less than 30cm high otherwise it earths itself. Solar setup for this and a fence is about 300$ for a reasonable quality fence and energizer. Not bad but you have to have way to prep the area to put the fence. You need a trimmer \ weeder etc. for this. (Or wait for a time when there is no grass).

    4 - Mulch in the area as in "pea straw" is unavailable due to pea weevil infestation and due to the demand bales are around 18-20$ each.

    5 - Where hot fence \ fence is sufficient I have added some sheep to "prep" the grass. I have managed to get a bit of a cycle going with sheep manure and grass clippings to start building local compost. This seems to work well and it keeps the sheep happy with a clean shed and provides free inputs to veggies.

    6 - Veggie raised beds (uncovered) was a bit of a failure, everything got eaten \ blown away (straw) or grass grew through 3 layers of cardboard. The good sign from this is that the soil is extremely active with worms as they chomped their way through cardboard before it killed the grass, which is rather incredible. It is like it vanished in thin air.
    Veggies beds V2. is raised and covered with windbreak \ shade cloth. They seem to do the trick but comes at a cost of 1$ per meter (1m wide), or 5$/m for 2m width at the local retailers. This excludes cost of wood for beds \ frames which comes in around 5$ \ 16$ per linear meter.
    Bigger greenhouses simply blow away or the steel gets mangled like spaghetti with the wind. Even aluminium frame \ polycarbonate houses doesn't work. I have not tried the commercial poly carbonate tunnels but they are relatively pricey i.e. 10k$+. 2inch(diameter) steel pipes get twisted around concrete posts from the wind.

    Love thy neighbour.

    Honestly the critters that eat the trees and veggies, well . I asked my self why animals would risk eating this when they have nature. But it does speak very loudly on how little biodiversity there is that animals would literally come so close to dogs etc. just to get food. Neighbouring properties bale grass and raise stock, MASSIVE tractors crisscross these little farmlets to top \ rake and bale grass for sale for the dairy industry mostly. The tractors with topper \ rake is about 12m in length and 7m in width for turning, baling takes 4 phases, cutting, raking, baling and then loading. I cannot even imagine the type of compacting that that would cause over the years on these little farms.

    I would have loved to go organic and potentially develop a label of some sort or at least get certified but my neighbour, insist on roundup along his side of the fence to "maintain" grass. The council sprays the roadsides all of which have massive drains to prevent paddocks from flooding and drain water from the roads. they are about 1.5m wide and 1m deep next to the road, with our 2000mm rain per year all that "stuff" goes through our property.

    Gone are the days of cycling \ walking along the roads. I shake my head at my neighbor, who unfortunate though does also have cancer. (related?! to roundup) .

    What is in store for the future ?

    Well, since the hares at the tree lucerne they will develop bushier and probably better for wind barriers. I've added some additional evergreens that will be espaliered to deal with the wind and some fast growing native totaras, they are not very "functional" in terms of fruit etc but they really look nice! and makes great barriers.

    When I "maintained" an old rosemary I took most of the cuttings probably around 100 that's all doing well and should be a fantastic hedge for the veggies hopefully allowing the pests to eat their fill before they get to the jackpot! I've also planted some Oaks which should get rid of the southerlies and the sheep will clear some grass for an olive grove which can deal with the colder ocean breezes. The Alders \ Birch will in some years to come sort out the northerlies.

    I highly recommend that if you make the move rural to do so with a hefty savings for good equipment to get over that initial hump. Naturally with more diversity everything becomes easier, my bamboo is just creating new shoots after barely surviving a courier trip in plastic wrapping! A shovel works well but you simply cannot be using that when you are "establishing" a system. I have investigated horse \ donkey ploughs etc. The country is rather limited in that except for a few commercial vineyard horse pulled ploughs.

    Happy to share more details \ specifics.
  2. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

    Nov 21, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    South Waikato New ZeLeand
    Cool mountain
    Hi Jannie, welcome to the forum an congrats on finally getting your little piece of paradise!
    With the possums and hares, have you thought of trapping them and using the carcases to feed your trees when you plant them? Preferably after you have plucked the possums and/or skinned them. Possum fur is wonderfully warm. You never know, there may be a hidden money maker there for you, or some warm jackets.

    Umm, why are you planting bamboo? Do you know if its a clumping or spreading type? This could be a big mistake if you wind up with bamboo sprouting up everywhere. Its an absolute bitch to get rid of if you do find its just not working as you thought it would.

    I love the idea of the rosemary hedge. Another you could look at that I am told is or was used in France, is very prickly Rose shrubs,climbers or ramblers. Again, it would be wise to make sure you are getting the right type for the job.
    Mature NZ Flax also make excellent wind breaks, the flower stalks are really good kindling and again if you get a good type like the taller forest type rather than the varigated (new hybrid) sort, you have a traditional source of weaving materials and can use this to make all sorts of things. The dried leaves curl up and I have often wondered if they could be used in swales to trap silt. They take ages to break down. This would not be something you would want to plant around the vegie garden or chook yard though. Its a great home for slugs and snails and with the way the roots grow, your chooks would have it dug out inside a week.

    What an exciting journey you are on. I cant wait to hear more.
  3. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

    Jul 10, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    E Washington, USA
    Semi-Arid Shrub Steppe (BsK)
    Hi Jannie and welcome,
    Great intro post! We are also familiar with unrelenting wind here ... planted fast growing hybrid poplar and willow to establish initial windbreaks and we almost anything that comes to hand for small, specific windbreaks (for individual trees, garden beds, outdoor areas) such as old wood fence panels and stacked straw bales.
    Have you tried pasturing your chooks with the sheep? They might complement each other plus the chickens would help keep down parasites and fly larvae.
    Looking forward to hearing more!
  4. jannie

    jannie New Member

    Jan 3, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:


    I have Nigra and Edulis bamboo, both which spreads. I'm planning to add some polycarbonate "screens" to prevent spreading rhyzomes.
    I was hoping the Edulis bamboo would serve as a food source for wild critters to leave the veggies \ trees alone.


    We got some chooks pretty much by chance (saved them from the block as some folks moved overseas). Possibly rhode island reds and leghorn \ sussex. whitish.
    Had to treat them for mites and fleas (they weren't well looked after). but with a couple (2-4) treatments of vaseline the mites are gone and I haven't noticed any fleas under the feathers anymore so they moved on.

    The chooks, well they are just too tame. I don't know if they were hand reared but some of them don't know how to forage themselves :) they literally stand right next to some barley grass and eyeball me for food. They follow me around everywhere, it's cute but they also follow me into the house, which is not cute. The 10x10cm square fencing is rather costly to setup to keep them in a paddock and as I've mentioned the grass is too long for hot fencing.

    Currently they are in an old loading dock that got converted into a coop. When I'm in the paddocks I let them out to mission around.
    The whitish chooks they seem to have by some chance figured out they can eat the vast amount of grass seeds and they seem to stick more and more to the paddocks. Two chooks which were much wilder than the others have moved in with the sheep and the follow them around. I expect this is more of a natural symbiosis is with the tick bird \ oxpecker. But they don't seem to be laying...

    I might try and pair up some of the chooks who lost their mojo with the ones living with the sheep. Maybe they can do some coaching :)

    I had some dealings with flax & cabbage trees and honestly the stuff is just too fibrous.


    In NZ there are some restrictions on boundary planting. It is not allowed to have a tree that grows higher than 3m within 3m of a boundary line.
    Due to the narrow width of the property if I were to put trees in a legal fashion I lose quite a bit of usable space.
    The wind is also predominantly northerly or southerly, what this means is if I put tall windbreaks I also lose a significant amount of sunlight due to the vast difference in azimuth in NZ.

    To work around this I created an S - Shape through the length of the property following the ridge line. This should in a few years (I suspect at the 30-40cm/ 5 months growth on the alders \ birch (much less with the acacias \ maackia) that it would take not much more than 3 years for this to be effective. The tree lucerne grows exceptionally fast, The plants (3$ each) Yes I know it's easy to grow this myself but I didn't have the time or seeds. They have grown by 1m and more (not sure if the hares eating it down to a stub has anything to do with it.

    The S shape should allow for micro climate pockets while sticking to council rules and also work as windbreaks, Law is a funny thing, because if you plant a tree that grows 20m high 4m from the fence it's fine :)
    I do have some poplar \ willow on the banks of the stream for erosion control.


    I failed to mention that there is tons of blackberries along the queens land** a covenant that prohibits planting within 5m of a stream.
    There is also a lot of Broom and a few gorse plants. I will be taking some of the broom seeds and also use this for hedges and maybe gorse if I have to (and have something to keep it in tact like a goat etc.)

    I've attached a picture.

    The red arrows are external water coming onto the site.
    Green dots are trees, blues are support but I haven't marked them all.
    the south side is where the sheep is at the moment clear the section for an olive grove to handle cold southerlies.

    I've planted several varieties to see which olives do best but I suspect that the soil is actually too good for olives to be honest. Also too wet, but I think the wind should be able to clear some of the moisture but it's still a bit of a pondering to do on that.

    The ponds are marked but they won't be done for some time. The northern half of property is old riverbed but there is very little sand of it left. It's mostly rock boulders , the smallest being a egg and the biggest I've managed to dug up about football size.
    There are tons of broadleaf dock and nettles. The sheep and chooks don't seem to mind dock contrary to what I've read. Between the clover, grass and nettles the bees are also pretty happy so I am definitely keen to get a hive.

    The black lines indicates ridges , naturally there are sections where it crosses a ditch but that will eventually be the pond overflows once they are made. Where this happens I aim to do it on contour as possible. The black lines has also been mowed, by somewhat of what I would call and effort but these effectively carve up cells which can be managed individually. Some are to be used for grazing should I get the hot fencing sorted (post summer when the grass dies down).

    Edges & Niches

    I have very much confirmed this theory what I've read on the edge planting; all grass \ plants seems to do great on the edges for whatever reason that may be.
    I know Sepp holzer goes into some detail of his sections where he sows cereals. The cells keep this in mind to maximize the edge effect and the trees have been noticeably omitted in some areas where cereal pollination is enhanced by wind. This is also been done to keep the ponds aerated. Because the property is not very wide the (And you cannot make ponds deeper than 1.5m without consent.) The wind would benefit the lower surface area to ensure enough oxygen transfer takes place. At least in theory!

    Plant list

    1 cassa18 Castanea sativa (SweetChestnut) $26.04 $26.04
    1 citggs12 Citrus pack-6 trees $113.05 $113.05
    1 ginb6 Ginkgo biloba $26.04 $26.04
    1 almixl Almond 'Garden Prince' $34.74 $34.74
    1 pinp6 Pinenut (Pinus pinea) $17.35 $17.35
    1 pecluc Pecan Lucas $130.39 $130.39
    1 olif12 Olive 'Frantoio' $43.43 $43.43
    1 olipic5 Olive 'Picual' $14.74 $14.74
    1 loqkg10 Loquat 'Kaitaia Gold' $26.05 $26.05
    1 peagqOG Peach 'Golden Queen' $34.74 $34.74
    1 peawOG Peach 'Wiggins' $34.73 $34.73
    1 peahl Peach 'Hobb's Late' $34.74 $34.74
    1 perptOG Pear 'Packhams Triumph' $34.74 $34.74
    1 berdel Berry pack 6 plants'Delight' $60.87 $60.87
    1 elda Elderberry 'Adams' $14.74 $14.74
    3 guarc2.0l Guava 'Red Cherry' $12.13 $36.39
    3 guayc2.0l Guava 'Yellow Cherry' $12.13 $36.39
    1 feig Feijoa 'Gemini' $17.35 $17.35
    1 feim Feijoa 'Mammoth' $17.35 $17.35
    1 feis12 Feijoa sellowiana $17.34 $17.34
    1 feios Feijoa 'Unique' $17.35 $17.35
    1 figbm Fig Brunswick $17.35 $17.35
    3 alngl6 Alnus glutinosa $17.35 $52.04
    1 betle Betula lenta $26.04 $26.04
    1 betpa40 Betula papyrifera $26.05 $26.05
    1 betplj12 Betula platyphylla v. japonica $30.39 $30.39
    1 corcol Corylus colurna (Turkish hazel $26.04 $26.04
    1 wisbd40 Wisteria 'Black Dragon' $21.70 $21.70
    1 graas6 Grape 'Alphose Lavelle' $14.74 $14.74
    1 chest28 Cherry 'Summitt' $34.74 $34.74
    1 granym6 Grape 'New York Muscat' $14.74 $14.74
    1 jugr18 Juglans regia $30.39 $30.39
    4 pomg Pomgrante Wonderfol $14.74 $58.95
    1 plutbdosrOG Plum Triple Black Doris/Omega/ $60.83 $60.83
    1 figsp18 Fig 'Robyn' $17.35 $17.35
    3 maaaT Maakia amurensis $14.74 $44.21
    6 alnco6 Alnus cordata $14.74 $88.44
    1 carill Carya illinoinensis $34.74 $34.74
    5 lepscws Leptospermum Wiri Sandra $13.00 $65.00
    1 pyrs Pyracantha 'Shawnee' $14.74 $14.74
    1 pyrsp18 Pyracantha 'Shawnee' $14.74 $14.74
    20 chapa3/4 Chamaecytisus palmensis $3.43 $68.69
    3 robp Robinia pseudoacacia $17.35 $52.05
    1 corcapS Cornus capitata $17.34 $17.34
    1 arbu5 Arbutus unedo $17.35 $17.35
    1 pteh Pterostyrax hispida $17.35 $17.35
    1 heda6 Hedycarya arborea $11.26 $11.26
    1 rapu18 Raphiolepis umbellata $13.00 $13.00
    1 acejaac Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium' $34.73 $34.73
    1 laban6 Laburnum anagyroides $13.00 $13.00
    10 lavd Lavandula dentata $3.44 $34.35
    1 phye Phyllostachys edulis $52.15 $47.80
    1 phyt Phyllocladus nigra $52.12 $43.43
    1 nectfrgsOG Nectarine triple Firebrite/Red $60.83 $60.83
    1 betpea6.5 Betula pendula alba $19.95 $19.95
    1 quesu Quercus suber $34.74 $34.74
    1 olipic5 Olive 'Picual' $14.74 $14.74
    1 oliv Olive Verdale $14.74 $14.74
    1 launV Laurus nobilis $8.65 $8.65

    Attached Files:

    9anda1f likes this.
  5. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

    Sep 12, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    gardening, reading, etc
    near St. Charles, MI, USoA
    Home Page:
    -15C-35C, 10cm rain/mo, clay, full sun, K-G Dfa=x=Dfb
    hello and welcome,

    sorry i don't have enough time to read everything at
    the moment, but your post reminded me about how
    much i think raised beds are such an expensive waste
    of materials and $. especially when you can get the
    exact same results from piling up the dirt, gently
    tamping the sides and then mulching. that will last
    a season for us without much maintenance and the
    next season i can make the patches different sizes
    or spaces without being stuck with a fixed layout.

    especially when starting out and being short on funds...
    when you are learning and don't know what you might
    actually need for space, siting, and like you say winds or
    other factors...

    anyways, just wanted to say good luck and keep at it. :)
  6. jannie

    jannie New Member

    Jan 3, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    HI Songbird.

    In a previous property (in town) I made raised beds by using tree trunks for borders. That worked really well as it happens that the trunks were left at the back of my property after the council decided to take down some trees, removing the trunks is not part of their job :)

    I didn't mind as I found the use for it. They were reasonably straight and I was a little creative to use an axe to cut groove finnish style to make them interlock.
    A season of so later when I got over the look :( it became a hugelkultuur bed).

    I found the border the biggest "thing" to a raised bed and the ability to put netting. There is a commercial product, a natural rubber which is rolled and is 10+ inch. They work great but they are expensive. I agree on just building a bed on the ground and I suspect if I reduce the wind and have a larger selection for the critters then I wouldn't require netting. I think it's just teething issues
  7. antonius

    antonius Member

    Jul 31, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    mild wet winters and summers
    hello just been reading your posts, i have some similar experiences on my side of the world , lots of wet stuff and lots of wind , i have just planted up a new ditch mound at the back of the property with grey alder ,honey locost , scotts pine , blackthorn , red birch and tree lucerne--all stuff grown from seed and transplants of self seeded trees on the place ---good to see that the tree lucerne takes off--i am hoping mines going to as well --the bloody slugs love it at the moment even at a foot an half high .i have bamboo as well--but i am only hoping it becomes big clumps and spreads --my neighbours cattle love it to the ground so i cant put it up on my front roadway ditch line, i think if it ever gets to be a problem for you a goat or two would sort that out. We have lots of gorse around our area --i dont have any planted up yet ---its tough stuff --lots of farmers use it for hedges and it was used as feed --the whole plant roots and all--its still possible on a few older places around here in the back shed to find a furze/gorse chopper mill --hand powered ,the stuff was cut and fed through these to flatten off the prickly bits, my neighbour used to feed his pony on it--he is 91 --and it was donkey /pony /horse and trap still in his time---says the horses love it --has good feed value and was for free --all small cottage one acre people --they worked as labour on the bigger farms --and needed all they could find for free to get by. I was picking the flowers off them when we got chatting --one of the few plants around to bloom in winter --or any time it seems--i was knocking up a batch of blackberry wine and the gorse was in bloom so i thought the coconut smell off it would add a twist to the wine --but it got lost in the"transmogification" to wine. About the chooks being dumb or shy , had a batch of these myself we can get them for free --ex battery hens --they used to be 50 cents each --they are past the one egg a day routine --they will stand still in a field off grass and look at the sun if you let them --they dont know how to be chooks--a good farmyard rooster is needed to take charge we had a little bantam type for this job. Dont do it anymore as many dont make the switch over to finding some of their own grub so need handouts --they can be eaten if you dare--going to switch to muscovies in the future anyway--much tastier. Windpower a small pump to feed a small waterfall back into the pond for aeration or a windpowered flap paddle on the surface to beat /stir it --as they do in south asia shrimp fish farm ponds. your planting list looks very much like my wish list--cheers antonius
    9anda1f likes this.

Share This Page