isabel on our new land

isabel on our new land
Isabel under the Kurrajong on our new land

Monday, February 21, 2011

Waiting for Autumn

While most gardeners in Australia enjoy the sun and warmth of summer in order to expand their growing possibilities, here in Queensland we continue to experiment with more tropical vegetables such as kang kong, maluchia, and snake beans.  All of which grow well in abundant rainfall and intense heat - its just a pity I don't know how to cook them!  Consequently my garden has become quite barren as the plagues of caterpillars and grasshoppers have enjoyed the bok choy, the zucchini has been donated to the chooks after the continual rain prevented any pollination (I'm not that keen to brave torrential rain early in the morning to hand pollinate) and fungal diseases took over, and the corn fed the local wildlife population before me.
So I'm letting the pumpkins take over while I prepare the other beds with compost and manure to supplement the excellent work of my ageing chickens.
The malaise of summer means that I have many jobs to catchup on, once the heat abates, to get back on top of the weeds and pests.  Luckily this term's organic horticulture class at TAFE covers just that.  We have started off studying soils and learning how to do various simple soil tests to determine makeup (sandy, loamy, clay etc), drainage, ph, and compaction.
This soil particle analysis shows the sand and silt and a little clay that have settled at the bottom.  The fact that the water has remained cloudy after 8 hours shows a high level of organic and mineral matter in the soil which means good nutrient holding capacity - which is just as well as this comes from my vege garden!

The other event which has prompted me out of my heat induced lethargy was a very enjoyable propogating morning spent with some past gardening students.  I find I'm much more productive if I can chat, eat cake and drink tea while I'm working.  As it was just before the full moon we planted seeds and took herb cuttings for our own gardens but also to help regenerate the Graceville Community Garden which was inundated in the recent floods

Watching seedlings emerge never fails to lift my spirits and renthuse me with the hope of new beginnings and continual growth.  Roll on Autumn!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Well I think it's time to inject a little manlyness into the permaculture equation. Yes this is big boy permaculture now, not that amby pamby frollicking barefoot amongst the zone 3 food forest stuff! This is about the smell of diesel, digging big holes with big machines, and getting down and dirty!
2.5 hours south of Brisbane, adjacent to the northern NSW village of The Channon is Zaytuna Farm - home of the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia (, and demonstration site for all things permaculture. There I spent five days at the feet of the permaculture guru - Geoff Lawton - to learn the secrets of permaculture earthworks. Nice chap.
I am now equipped with the knowledge to excavate dams and swales, and control water to bring moisture and nutrients back into the soil. What power! I hope to use it wisely on our land soon. Can't wait to get diggin!