Trying to start on a tight budget

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself Here' started by dotyouri, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. dotyouri

    dotyouri Junior Member

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    Hello everyone. I've been reading about permaculture for years and years with the intention of working my own land but never really ventured further than reading on forums and planting a small vegie patch. I'm hoping I will be able to learn a few things here and starting planning my property and planting. :)

    I have a few issues (excuses?) that prevent me throwing myself into this project as I would have 20 years ago. Still I'm determined.

    I'm a 48yo wife and mum. DH and I have 7 kids (his, mine and ours). 5 older ones have left home. Four of them have recently built their own homes. We have two kids at home (12 & 11yo). I have a multitude of chronic health issues many of which I believe are probably food related issues. I'm working my through this at the moment but truly believe that growing my own food organically will go a long way to improving my health on many levels.

    We live on a 1/2 acre block in an itty bitty rural community which is located kinda NE central Victoria. Incredibily warm today. Whilst I might not have room for livestock, I know I can grow a heck of a lot of food on this land.

    One of the big issues that I feel has held me back is an issue of finances.... or rather lack of it. We live on a very small income and tight budget. I don't have a lot of $$ to be buying in supplies to set this property up. I would love some advice on how I can get started on a very small (almost non existant) budget. Doing a permaculture course is absolutely out of the question. I've been wanting to do one for 15 years but never been able to manage to scrape up the $$. Any ideas or suggestions on how I can start working my yard in a permaculture fashion? Any sites or books I could borrow from libraries that might be beneficial to helping me out?

    Thanks for reading.

    Cheers, Dot
     
  2. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Get hold of Rosemary Morrow and Linda Goodrow's books. If you have any money I'd invest in the latest editions. Lots of practical advice and knowledge sharing with a focus on DIY.

    I'd also prioritise money towards some good basic tools. Garage sales are good if you have time, or freecycle or recycle centres.

    Ideally permaculture is suited for low income people. You don't have to do a PDC. Use this forum and any others you can find - there are regular posters here with amazing amounts of knowledge and experience. If you enjoy being online, start a thread in the projects forum about what you are doing (once you get going).

    I've been low income and have health issues too. One of the things that I love about pc is that I can utilise what is one the property fully and so don't have to buy in stuff. You can grow your own mulch and source things you need locally from waste streams or the wild.

    Observation is a crucial pc skill, even more so when you can't buy in stuff. Also, get stuck in and try things and don't be afraid to fail. That's the way to learn. Pay attention to the land and the plants and other life, on you land and in your locale.

    How much knowledge to you have of permaculture design already?

    Depending on what your kids are like, find ways of incorporating them into the design.
     
  3. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    Start at your back door Dot - a few potted herbs can grow in no time to a flourishing garden and join a local group as swaping plants is a great way to boost you range and fun too.
     
  4. nchattaway

    nchattaway Junior Member

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    Hi Dot,
    That author mentioned by Pebble is Linda Woodrow, not Goodrow. Her book introduced the mandala zone 1 system, combining chookdomes, veggies and fruit trees in a very concentrated space. If you have half an acre, you could work up to 7 mandala gardens arranged in a big circle. This is what purplepear is doing and feeding quite a few families along the way.
    Another good book that might be more suited to your climate is Jackie French's Backyard Self Sufficiency. Jackie is very casual compared to Linda Woodrow and she's making a very carefree system work wonderfully. She plants seeds from fruit she loved and grows trees that way. If you plant enough, you'll get plenty of ok fruit for free one day. Buying seeds is very cheap, but not as cheap as begging them from a local seed saver group.
     
  5. dotyouri

    dotyouri Junior Member

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    Thanks for the replies folks. I really appreciate you taking the time to do so.

    I did own Linda Woodrow's book several years ago but loaned it to my mother and it appears to have disappeared. :think: Mum lives at the back of our long 1/2 acre block but is in the process of moving. Hopefully she'll come across the book during packing. Not holding my breath though. LOL!

    I feel now is the time to get my act together and start planning. I have grown vegies on many occassions in years past. I'm not concerned with the actually 'growing'. It's more with regards to the planning of my block to utilise it best and also develop it in a manner that works for me/us rather than me needing to spend hours and hours maintaining my vegie plots. After mum leaves I will have my work cut out trying to relocate the truck loads of gravel and white pebbles she obsessively spread all over 1/3 of the block. Grrrr! I hate them with a passion. We do have a driveway that desperately needs re-topping so I might have to save to try and get a little mini earthmover in. Dunno, this could be a shovel and wheelbarrow job.

    I am a big fan of Jackie French and own several of her books already. Actually, now that I think about it, I believe I own Backyard Self Sufficiency. Might have to check Mum on that one too. I do have here in my hot little hands, The Earth Gardener's Companion and The Practical Australian Gardener by Peter Cundall. This book has been used to death in years past. Peter Cundall keeps me on track. :nod:

    So I guess what I'm saying is that it's not lack of gardening experience or knowledge that appears to be holding me back. It's definitely funds and physical pain. My plan is to try and stay inspired to plod along slowly and carefully plan my block so that it becomes a self sustaining (for the most part) food forest. Permaculture. Yes?

    Again, thanks for your input and it looks like I might have found a good place to hang out for a while and glean some more ideas and knowledge.

    Cheers! :y:
     
  6. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    Hi Dot, I will see if I can save up a few seeds for you. Is there anything you need? I think you are probably not that far away so some of my seeds may do well for you.

    Get as friendly with the local farmers as you can, it is amazing how often they have a half a dozen old rotting bales of straw or lucerne that you can have, especially if you can give them some eggs every now and then, or a surplus zucchini, or you get the idea. Take an interest in the locals with some growing knowledge, they are sure to offer you some spare seeds or seedlings etc.

    Get to know weeds as your friends.

    Get some chickens, they are worth their weight in gold. If you can't afford some, I'll let you know when we get some new babies and you can come and get them for nix if you like. You can sell a few eggs to help pay for their feed.

    If you need something, then let it be known. We always mention the things we are looking for to anyone we meet, it is amazing how often they have one lying out the back that they want to get rid of.

    Scrounge.

    We often stop at wild road-side fruit trees and pick what we need. It is also amazing how many people have fruit trees that they never pick - they let stuff drop to the ground. Ask them if you can have some. Tell them how nice the fruit looks. Tell them you will prune their trees if you can have some fruit etc etc.

    There is still a lot of good free stuff out there, or as near to free as to not matter, but you have to let the universe know what you are looking for.

    As for a PDC, I still think there are a number of teachers out there that have a percentage of places for free each year. Check it out, it can't hurt to ask.

    What I have found is that you have to shed the ego and just ask.
     
  7. dotyouri

    dotyouri Junior Member

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    Wow! Thanks Grahame. This is just what I need to hear.

    I think I may just need to shift a few gears in my head. Your post has got me thinking and realistically I live in a area where all those thing you mentioned are most likely very possible. Heck, I work part time on a brood mare farm. Sheesh! I guess because I work in the office, it has never occurred to me to ask for trailer loads of stable sweepings. I know they have them and it's a good time to get them right now as the stables are used all the time with foals about to be born, etc. I believe there's a permie group up in Violet Town which is only about 45 mins drive up the highway from where I live.

    I have a couple of chooks. I used to have more but local dogs killed most of them. I haven't been able to replace them. I have asked a couple of people if they're overrun with chooks that I'd be willing to lighten their load a little but so far no luck. I could defnitely do with a few more.

    Grahame, you are quite a bit further north but we will have a very similar climate. I'm just north of the divide and so near the start of the very warm, dry climate. I'll pm you. ;)

    Thanks so much. I'm starting to think a little differently now and feeling a lot more positive. I really have found the right place to be hangin' around, haven't I.
     
  8. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Do you have a spare room at your place? You might consider registering with WOOFERs and get some young keen person who can push that wheelbarrow for you, make garden beds and so on in return for room and board.

    I concur with Grahame. I have found gardeners to be generous to a fault. Get to know some local folk and they'll be giving you plant material to grow and tips on were to get the best mulch cheaply and so on. If there's a community garden in town go and volunteer. It's a great way to meet people with gardens in their blood.
     
  9. Denise

    Denise Junior Member

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    I joined a local community garden a few months ago and have found it to be fantastic. To see a group of people coming together with different knowledge, talents, interests pooling their resorces and producing top quality produce has inspired me.
     
  10. dotyouri

    dotyouri Junior Member

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    Thanks for those great ideas eco and Denise. I hadn't thought about WOOFers. Unfortunately, we are a large family in an itty bitty house. We struggle to fit ourselves into it. LOL! Still a great idea.

    It is unusual to have a block under 1/2 acre where I live and so, as you can imagine, there is no real need for a community garden.

    I think my best bet is to try and locate some seed savers or permie group as close as possible and just visit them at their next get together.

    I've been able to source some free stable sweepings. I just needed a gear shift in my mind. Sending a message to this forum and having just a little feedback has been very beneficial.

    Thanks to you all for your input.
     
  11. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Get a book from the library on how to propogate from cuttings etc too. It's a very easy way to get plants once you get the hang of things.
     
  12. Lucky

    Lucky Junior Member

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    I hate to sound like an echo, but I have to agree with Pebble and Purplepear, use your limited funds on quality tools and your library card on propogation books. Start at your back door and flow on from there. I'd also keep in mind the principles of capturing and storing energy and of obtaining a yield. That free plant obtained from a cutting may not crop as well as a storebought wunderkind, but plant it while you save up for what you want, because we all know that sometimes things go wrong and then you'll at least have something.
    Oh, and if you can source the inputs I'd look at the Woodrow Mandalas.
     
  13. abdullah

    abdullah Junior Member

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    dot, since you work part time on a farm, you might be eligible to have a PDC or other useful course subsidised, including some travel costs, by the farmready program: www.farmready.gov.au
     
  14. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    why don't you advertise that you've got lots of gravel and white pebbles free to whoever takes them away. That will save you the effort. I know if you were in my neighbourhood, i'd be happy to come and get some of those white pebbles.
     

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