Using permaculture ethics & design principles to transform an old energy guzzling bungalow into a showcase of sustainable design. It's about energy cycling, building community, self-reliance,creatively using & reusing materials... all without spending heaps of money.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Let's grow some food

Principle 2: Obtain a yield

The 'wetland' area at the front of the property, now referred to as a 'basin', harvests water from rainfall allowing it to soak and store within the earth. Top soil that was put aside from earlier earthworks was mounded up to create a raised bed with the idea that water would wick up from the moist soil below, much like a wicking bed, without flooding the plants. Horse manure collected from local stables was used like mulch and spread across the raised area before planting potatoes in the bed.


Soil mounded in front yard water harvesting basin for vegetable plantings

Basin fills with water after heavy rains, mounded bed mulched with horse manure

Potatoes growing on mounded bed require very little watering and are thriving

Other food producing garden beds have been built close to the back decking, where they receive lots of attention and get plenty of sun. We planted herbs and salad greens around the Red Gum stump with mint in the centre so that it couldn't take over. It's very handy to the kitchen to ensure it gets used frequently.

First vegie garden in the backyard, near back door to ensure it gets lots of attention

Herb circle surrounding Red Gum tree stump

Horse manure collected from local stables was later semi-composted before being used on the garden. Recycled feed bags were filled with the stable mix and stacked together into a pile about one metre square. This was wrapped in black plastic and left for about a week, helping decompose the contents, killing off weed seed, fly larvae and improving the smell. This method could be improved by placing the bags onto a pallet, as the earth keeps the bottom bags cool. *Thanks to Brian Bowering for his advice and support.

Horse poo with stable wood shavings bagged up and stacked

Manure stack wrapped up in black plastic to help heat up, killing weed seed and fly larvae

Large pieces of Red Gum bark were broken up by smashing them on a star picket which was set into the ground. These smaller pieces could be more easily fed into a mulcher. The bark has been used in between my new vegie beds as a path. The bark will mulch the ground, hold excess moisture and eventually decompose adding valuable nutrients to the soil whilst deterring snails and slugs (hopefully).
The old bungalow site is to become the primary vegie growing zone, because of its solar access and its proximity to the greenhouse. Soil around the perimeter of the original building has built up over the last 60 years and created a depression where the building once was. This area collects and holds water in the soil much like the basin that I built at the front of the house. The concreted entrance of the old building remains and has become a hardening off area for seedlings.
Compost bays were built along the northern boundary fence using the foundations of the old bungalow for support. They were built using recovered corrugated iron and timber off-cuts. An old plastic tarpaulin is set up on the bays which give the flexibility to; speed up the composting process; prevent too much rain or to reduce evaporation when it's too hot.

Red Gum bark broken up into small pieces on star picket before being fed through mulcher

Heavy rains flood the area under the original bungalow, which was recently cleared of timber, this will become the primary vegie growing area

Vegie beds made on old bungalow site using treated stable mix with paths covered by mulched Red Gum bark

Compost bays built with left over building materials using foundations of original building for support 

2 comments:

Ramsey said...

I am really impressed with your blog. Love the update s on your various projects. Those compost bays look excellent.
However I am wondering if the soil under the old house site that you are using as a veggie growing area is safe?
Lots of old poisonous and now banned insecticides were used against termites have you have the soil checked?
I look forward to your next posts

permie said...

That's a good point, I hadn't fully considered that. I was thinking of doing a soil test to see if the ground was well balanced, perhaps they can test for poison in that process. I have heard that the Albrecht method is the way to go.