Harvest for 2022 - growing the boundaries

Whiteheads creek garden harvest in Feb 2022 Another very unusual year, but for very different reasons than the previous COVID years. With the easing of restrictions we were gradually given more opportunities to engage with the rest of society - but for those of us who chose not to get inoculated there were still many barriers in place. There wasn't much that we could do outside of our home during the Lock-Out period - refused entry to pubs, caf├ęs, restaurants, library, pool etc for months into the new year. Whiteheads Creek But we made the most of the freedoms that we had, building relationships with our local neighbours was one of them. We'd been invited to make use of the land across the road from us, which I'd play footy and soccer on with our kids - Kai and Sen. I noticed an overgrown garden bed smothered in 1m high of grass that I enquired about. I was offered the space to make use of - including access to water and a small shed to store tools. The space is about 150

Food production for 2021

  2021 pear harvest, a mix of nashi, cooking pears and sweet pears - grafted on the same tree Another tough year of the pandemic, but fruitful in the garden. There's always something productive to do in our backyard - with great rewards for effort. Production was down on the previous couple of years, with 470kg of produce in total on our 580m² block with a Garden Farming area of 387m² (land size, less roof area). This equates to a yield of 1.21kg/m² in a year that we recorded 712 mm of rain, significantly higher than the long term average (560mm).  We also harvested a couple of roosters and 251 eggs, down from 807 last year, as a fox outwitted us and decimated our flock in May. I choose not to get more chooks for a while, to see what sort of apple harvest we would get and find out what life is like without them. Apples will be harvested in 2022. Wooly aphids have infected one tree in particular, I haven't sprayed to see if the ladybird population would take care of them - not v

600kg of food harvested in 2020

Principle 3: Obtain a yield   Abundant cherry plum harvest, turned into wine and drinks   We produced over 600kg of food in 2020, which was a significant improvement in our harvest from 2019 of 532kg.  This was harvested from a Garden Farming area of 387m² (land size, less roof area) in a year that we recorded 807 mm of rain, significantly higher than the long term average. This equates to a yield of 1.37kg/m². The increase in overall yield was due to the higher rainfall, huge pumpkin harvest and big increase in fruit harvest > 315kg vs 176kg last year. Having such a large fruit harvest is becoming quite problematic, as lots of work is required to preserve the yield - and there is only so much fruit you can eat. Another increasing problem is fruitfly. Proper fruitfly netting has helped increase yield and reduce preserving work significantly.  Our vegetable production was lower 233kg vs 310kg last year. I believe that my problems growing tomatoes is primarily caused by tomato russet

An example of all 12 Permaculture Principles in action

2020 Grape Trellis Harvest Richard standing in front of the grape trellis covering the northern deck. Back of rocket oven on left. Photo: Sen Yoshimoto.  NB. This post was mostly written in Feb 2020. The 2019/2020 summer was the most unusual that I can remember. Starting off with snow in the mountains, followed by heatwaves and an unprecedented fire season that incinerated 1.2 million hectares in eastern Victoria in a week. Then we got huge hailstorms in SE Australia that destroyed the CSIRO research centre greenhouses in Canberra. Next we got the flooding rains on the east coast. We've been fortunate in Seymour, avoiding the fires, hail and flooding rains. We've measured 110mm so far for the first 43 days of 2020. As a comparison we got 21mm over the same period in 2019, with 344.5mm for the year. But, this unseasonal weather of welcomed rain comes with it's downsides, with grapes splitting and mouldy. As an home education exercise for Sen (main photographer, ag

Over 500kg of food harvested in 2019

Principle 3: Obtain a yield We produced over half a tonne of food in 2019, with a total yield of 498kg of fruit and vegetables along with 805 eggs collected, which was a significant improvement in our harvest from 2017 of 308kg and 718 eggs.  This was harvested from a Garden Farming area of 387m² (land size, less roof area) in a year that we recorded 344.5 mm of rain, 41% lower than the long term average. This equates to a fruit/veg yield of 1.29kg/m². I attribute the increased yield attributed to a number of factors. An increased diversity and biological activity after 9 years of living on the land. The installation of drip irrigation. And, improved gardening and animal management practices. In the table below I've divided the food grown on site into several areas. The herbs and 'other' - which includes mushrooms, dried pulses, dried corn - are much more time consuming to produce and are valued more highly. Eggs (2019 harvest total was 805) Vegetables (2019

Rocket powered oven - a review

Principle 6: Produce no waste Way back in 2009, while helping clean up a house for a friend, I obtained an old gas oven. My vision was to one day build my own rocket powered oven. I had no idea of how to do that, so the oven sat under a tarp for many years. Then, by chance, in April 2016 I stumbled across a workshop being run by appropriate technology experts Tim Barker and Joel Meadows, while visiting Yandoit Farm . It included a section on how to transform an old gas oven into a rocket powered oven. Of course, I had to do the workshop! We spent the morning learning about what rocket power is, how it works and why its so efficient. In the afternoon we built the oven and had roast veggies from it that night. A 'white' rocket powered oven, built during a previous workshop at Yandoit Farm Inspired by the project, I included a photo of the build in the 2017 permaculture calendar to illustrate the principle ' observe and interact ' to introduce the concept to a

Failing to live up to a promise - getting locked out

Principle 1: Observe and Interact When I built the house I used as many second hand materials as I could, but I didn't skimp on the main door locks. I bought that best that I could, a well regarded brand and a relatively simple and common design. The Lockwood 001 Deadlatch came with a 25 year warranty too, so I felt pretty secure in my choice. 8-9 years later and on of the 2 locks that I bought began to fail, the internal knob wouldn't 'hold back', which meant that we started to get locked outside unexpectedly. Remembering that the lock had a 25 year warranty I started investigating how I could get it repaired / replaced. In the fine print I noticed that I needed to provide proof of purchase, and return it to the place of purchase. Being the person that I am I found a receipt that I tucked away, but it had totally faded to the point that I couldn't read it at all, so I couldn't do that. I thought I'd give it a go anyway, because I felt that I was so