Tildesam's Experiments: Rural Edition

Discussion in 'Members' Systems' started by Tildesam, Jul 29, 2017.

  1. Tildesam

    Tildesam Junior Member

    Feb 13, 2012
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    Web Developer
    Sydney, Australia
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    Warm Temperate (Diggers Cold Zone 10, Hot Zone 4-6)
    Because I'm terrible at keeping a garden journal - I thought I'd document my permaculture experiments here! I did another thread on my suburban experiments - but this one is where the exciting stuff happens. This is the place I'd love to do permaculture, permanently!

    While it’s not mine but my partner’s - It is my plan (and my hope) to move to this place permanently. It’s 22 acres of sloping, south-facing land in northern NSW. We’re pretty high up at around 790m so we get warm-hot summers and cool to fricking cold winters. We usually don’t see snow here, but frost is common.


    On the property is a mudbrick house, built by a guy in the 1980s.It reminds me a little like the house David Holmgren owns on Melliodora (VIC) and has a few similar features. Regardless, it feels like whoever built this house read Permaculture One & Two as the materials come from in or around the property, and the house itself is settled on a granite outcrop on what (I have guessed to be) the keyline point on the slope. It faces perfectly north too, which suits the big windows in winter.


    Most of what I understand about this property (gathered by me over 7 years or so observing it) comes from the 1-2 cleared acres around the house - cleared by necessity due to the neighbouring state forest on the western side of the property - our primary fire and danger sector. The remainder is either dry-ish sclerophyll (scrubby) forest, and knee high bladey grass - a pain to walk around and a bigger pain to keep managed.


    The soil is loamy clay - just enough clay to be a pain to the average gardener. With the high annual rainfall for the climate (~900mm a year) this clay has proven to be the death of many of my experiments (death by drowning, mostly)... when it invariably heats up in summer, inadequate moisture turns it all solid, making it back-breaking work to dig around.


    We’ve only got one little garden bed here for now. Since I don’t live here yet, the best I’ve been able to do experimentation wise, has been scattering ground cover seeds, plant random plants and see what survives. So far, the strongest contenders have been lavender, and rosemary (unsurprisingly, the best against frost and heat).

    Bulbs seem to do OK here too, despite abysmal neglect.


    When I think about the potential for design on this property I get a little light-headed with excitement. By building the house in the way he did, the architect saved us a lot of work on the primary structure. But there is an awful lot of work remaining to even get started. Earthworks, plant selection, fencing, you name it.

    I’ve been debating a lot about whether there’s any use in starting a design component (like a set of vegetable beds, digging the trench for a reed system) without living here permanently and being able to see its’ progress. I can't help myself but to have drawn a few designs but I know once I live here, things will change again, I'm sure.

    In the meantime, it's sort of wild, unkempt demeanour is quite endearing.
    grantvdm and mischief like this.
  2. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

    Sep 12, 2013
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    gardening, reading, etc
    near St. Charles, MI, USoA
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    -15C-35C, 10cm rain/mo, clay, full sun, K-G Dfa=x=Dfb
    yes, clay with dry spells is always a challenge but
    increasing your incorporated organic matter in the
    garden beds will help quite a bit with that. for
    when you are there full time...

    so much of our place is hardscape and i'm not a
    big fan because the layout here is completely
    opposite of what it should be. nothing was done
    with planning so all designs and updates are
    retrofits. a huge amount of added work compared
    to a design up front knowing they were going to
    be gardening.

    so you do have large advantages there for sure. :)

    for large animal control and making sure to get some
    sort of harvest (or at least improving the odds) a good
    fence is important. research it first before building
    and plan to go in stages because it can be expensive
    and you don't want to overspend v.s. production/return
    and also your water storage capacity for irrigation if
    you end up going that ways.

    i have always been into just keeping it as simple as
    possible and have been combining smaller gardens and
    removing pathways as they are more work and a waste
    of valuable space. i like having more flexibility in the
    larger areas and don't mind having to walk around or
    through plants as any small pathways get covered with
    veggies then it keeps the weeds down too (once they
    get going).

    good luck! :)

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