Sometimes wishes do come true!

Discussion in 'Chin Wag' started by ClissAT, Dec 22, 2017.

  1. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Last night was the Noosa Permaculture Xmas breakup meeting & we had a mystery gift giving part where people brought along something secondhand that they nolonger needed or wanted to regift.

    I took some sewing material that was given to me as an xmas pressie.

    In exchange I got a steel mesh quail cage that I will upcycle into a plant stand, 2 tube stock trees for my food forest & best of all a consultation with the local permaculture expert.

    This last item I am very excited about because I am keen to see if anyone else can get food to grow at my place with less effort than I have had to input.

    The consult date is Dec28. I will take some drone photos in preparation & I have to write a list of preferences that the consultant will build a plan around regarding how much effort I am willing to put in, what sort of food I want to grow, how much land I want to devote, how much money I can spend, what water is available, etc.

    This last item will be the sticking point since the dam water will be out of the equation. So I am thinking he will be wanting to use the swale method with chop & drop. Not that there is much to chop & drop out in the paddocks right now since it has gotten so dry again. But I'm sure I can find greenery & manure, etc from some other source.

    Hopefully rain will come along right after the swales are made so it doesn't take a year to see results. This measly thin topsoil doesn't hold moisture for more than a few days after rain as the spotted gum trees will attest to. However there are many black wattles that can be cut down for chop & drop if their foliage will be good enough. Plus the tops of 2 ornamental fig trees that are too close to the house.

    All I need then is someone to come along to provide labour to help me do the chop & drop since it is not something I can do alone these days.

    I also spoke at length with a guy who has commercial bee hives plus many native hives. He might be willing to put some hives at my place if he sees there will be enough food for the bees.

    All very exciting & is the some total of the xmas pressies & parties that I will get this year since I no longer have family handy.
     
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  2. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Interested to see what the consult comes up with.......:eat:
     
  3. Lois

    Lois Active Member Premium Member GOLD

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    ClissAT that is lovely. What an exciting thing to look forward to. I imagine you will be thinking of possibilities. Only 3 more sleeps. Best wishes
     
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  4. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    So Rob the permaculture guy came yesterday arvo for 3hrs as it turned out.
    He hasn't had such a challenging client before I think! :)
    But I enjoyed discussing things in a scientific way with a person who understood.
    We noted many anomalies regarding the dam water issue.

    One was the place where I wash out the kitchen scrap bin each day after burying the scraps in the compost.
    I rinse the bin with dam water from a hose over the end of an old garden bed that still has herbs growing wild & thickly in it & they are thriving despite the daily drenching with dam water.
    Why would they grow madly when any other plant that same water touches dies within days?
    We wondered whether a settling tank might be helpful for the dam water since the water I was rinsing the scrap bin with had effectively settled inside the hose since the previous day.

    We noted that even though I rinse the bin out daily, the soil is dry only 2cm down.
    We noted the soil has no clay & easily compacts. We could see the composting layer on the surface was working very well indicating lots of biological life yet only 2cm below that layer, the soil was so hard we couldn't put our fingers into it.
    That soil had been well forked & ameliorated with compost & animal manure the last time I grew a crop in it (2yrs ago) & it hasn't had any traffic on it since so it should not be so hard.

    We checked my test patches under the various mango trees where I had dumped thick layers of prunings from people's house yards. Under others I have planted sweet potatoes & cherry tomatoes & added thick layers of goat manure along with thick layers of either cane mulch or lucerne. This is similar to chop & drop to produce a micro environment for good micro-flora to thrive. Yes we could see the micro-flora are there but their actions do not extend more than 1-2cm into the ground.

    There are no worms either.

    I have a bucket of NutriTech BAM on the go brewing all the time which I water onto various container beds & other plantings from time to time yet the soil areas that have received it have not responded.

    My aim is to create some patches of soil that will hold moisture more than 2-3days so I can plant trees, etc & leave them, such as in the food forest. I cant be carting buckets of water all around the place every few days. Apart from the physical effort, it ties me to the property preventing me from going away ever.

    We looked at where I planted the avocados which died within a few weeks of planting. I had dug huge meter wide holes60cm deep, added far better soil & compost, planted them high, mulched well, protected them from the winds & sun & added ground covers such as sweet potato to help keep the soil cool & moist.
    But the better growing medium I added soon disappeared & the trees sank way down into the holes so that during a week of heavy rain when I was also quite ill & didn't go to the garden, the trees drowned.

    Rob was fascinated with the way the natural soil here 'eats' any form of quality soil, compost or fertilizer that is added, well before the plants gets a chance to utilize it.
    He suggested lining the planting holes with several layers of hessian bags so the plants might get the goodies before the natural soil gets it.

    We nutted out a strategy for planting the food forest trees & I am to experiment with one tree first until a few weeks into the wet season to see how this new planting method might work.
    Since the trees I have planted & failed with, died within several weeks & usually soon after rain, I will only have to wait a short while at this time of year with the wet season imminent.
    If the freshly planted trees appear to be sinking into the holes (because the natural dirt is consuming the good additives meant for the new trees) it will be easier to pull the new trees up using the hessian without disturbing their root balls.
    If the method works & the trees grow well, the hessian will rot away without damage to the roots.

    I am to plant on high mounds with wide saucers to catch rain & fill those saucers with ground covers such as herbs & edible flowers to create microclimates immediately above ground level.
    Today I remembered it is possible to buy powered red clay by the ton bags & it is something I should look into. It would certainly help trap moisture in the planting mix.

    We briefly discussed swales but since I want to do that project on a larger scale in the horse paddocks, it will have to wait until I have mechanised help in the form of a tractor with a blade & bucket.

    He took some rocks from the schist layer only 10cm below ground level & some dam water for testing.

    I then showed him the post holes dug several months ago for the carport beside the house. The ground water rises up into the holes within hours of any moist weather. Considering the house is on the top of an artificially flattened ridge, it is interesting that the ground water comes up to ground level yet the plants are perpetually dry.
    But at the same time we noted the thriving natural trees & the introduced plantings that have acclimated themselves to these harsh conditions.

    All very confusing actually. He does not have a large amount of experience with challenging situations like mine but he was intrigued enough to give it a go.

    So our conversation will go on via email & he will come back in a few weeks.
    He also made a weekly order from me of a large tray of fresh ripe mangoes along with a 4lt container of sliced frozen mango. That order is to go on until the end of my mango season. That was nice of him to think that despite my failed efforts to grow quality crops here, he still thinks what is here is worth eating. Of course his thinking may have been swayed by the several mangoes we consumed as we walked & talked! :)
    My Brooks mangoes are quite excellent this year finally.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
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  5. Lois

    Lois Active Member Premium Member GOLD

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    ClissAT that sound so good. Looks like your on the way to the garden of your dreams. What a wonderful chance. I look forward to reading updates.
     
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  6. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I'll start a thread in the gardening section as there will be quite a bit going on over the next several months....different large scale composting techniques, swales appearing in the horse paddocks, mounds of powdered clay appearing, etc.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
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  7. letsgo

    letsgo Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Wow so much info hopefully everything you discussed with him will work out better for you. I admire your tenacity and enthusiasm to keep working your property and keep finding better ways to farm and solve the issues you have.

    It will be interesting to follow your process.
     
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  8. DarrenP

    DarrenP Active Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Your soil situation is curious, ClissAT. We have one area of our yard that is like that, so I will be following your progress with interest.
    I am covering that area with manure and compost, then covering that with cardboard (sticky tape and/or staples removed), and then mulching over the top. Hopefully that improves the soil underneath.
     
  9. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    LOL... made him work for it :)

    I've considered that here on a smaller scale to slow the water flow across the back of our house in heavy downpours.
     
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