Last year (catching up on blogging!) we had the opportunity to do a tour with a bunch of home ed families to an awesome place called Purple Pear Organic Farm. It’s an amazing place that provides food to about 40 families every week, as well as feeding themselves of course. The provide work for WOOFers, and also run permaculture courses. The vibe was so amazingly friendly and informative, and I was amazed at the attentiveness of the kids. They soaked it up, mud puddles and all. 🙂
We’ve finally done it! The no dig garden that has lived only in my imagination for so long has finally become an actual thing in real life! Like most things, I learned a lot by researching on the internet and in books, but I topped off that learning by actually DOING it. I’ve now realised a few things I’d do differently next time, but like they say – live n learn!
To our delight, we have discovered that the the little green figs on our figtree have become large-ish, more colourful, soft, ripe fruit! Yum…… 🙂
Of course, the trick was getting to them before the birds. Mind you, I’m figuring that the ones the birds get to first are at least going to a worthy cause! However, in an effort to try to keep at least SOME figs for ourselves (I know – how incredibly selfish of us!), my good friend Melissa came to the rescue again, this time with some bird netting. Unfortunately, there isn’t quite enough of it, so the birds still get under it and eat all the blessed fruit they like! At least they manage to get back out again, rather than getting stuck. Me thinks the bird netting might as well come down, and next time we’ll get a larger piece!
So…. today was the day we bit the bullet, went for a beautiful country drive, and bought ourselves 6 little day-old chicks! SUCH an exciting moment. We’re really nowhere near ready for them, but my friend Melissa was going out to this great breeder to buy some ducklings and suggested I come with her and get started on our chicken adventure! Nothing like a bit of pressure to get those weeds & asbestos removed, and a chook house built! At least for now they can live in our laundry at night and in a spare rabbit hutch during the warm summer days! They’re SOOOOOO cute. We got one for each membe of the fam, although at this stage T & B are insisting they’re not at all interested. But I’m sure the girls will win them over with their charms.
And I have to say it’s also a little bit exciting to have the power balance change in the female direction, in this formerly-testosterone-fuelled household! Molly’s been wishing for a sister for a long time, so now she gets SIX!! That makes eight girls in the family now, in a funny kind of way. Actually, twelve if you count the mice. But then I suppose we’d have to count the male rabbit & dog, but I still think the girls win. Hang on while I add it up…… YES! Girls:12 Boys: 6 🙂
One day my good friend Melissa came and we got started on mission-weed-destroy! We removed the weeds from along the garage wall, and to our dismay discovered that underneath them were massive root systems – basically, they were tree trunks sawn off just above ground level! It seemed our problem was even bigger than we’d at first thought! I have to admit I felt pretty disheartened. And more so when all the weeds grew back again! (I won’t forget how sore my arms were after the day of hacking into the weeds, and it was pretty annoying that it was all for nothing!)
My mission then became about finding out what the weeds actually were and how to get rid of them. I really didn’t want to have to use poison, especially because we plan to grow food on this land, and also just because I like to do things a la naturally, as much as possible.
After much internet research I discovered that the weeds are a category 3 noxious weed called Green Cestrum which grows as high as 3 foot. It spreads most rapidly during spring (when we moved in) and also spreads more if the trunk is chopped down but not fully removed or poisoned. The previous owners had obviously chopped down quite a few of these bushes/trees, which has actually made the problem worse. Bummer!
Anyway, our lovely landlord, James, ended up offering to join us in a working bee, so yesterday was the day we donned out workboots and got stuck into it (AGAIN!). This time we managed to remove 3 entire root systems as well as a whole bunch of the spreading weeds. We’ve really only just begun, but at least we know how to tackle it now!
It was an AWESOME feeling to get that huge patch cleared (see the first picture!)
Post Script: We actually ended up leaving two plants & their runners because we ran out of time, and they are beginning to spread again! Grrrr…… Apparently the previous residents chopped some of the plants down but didn’t remove the root systems, so they’ve just spread like wildfire and we’re still trying to get on top of it!
It’s often the things we try to forget about or cover up that do the most damage.
Today I also found another surprise treasure growing in a pot of lovely compost given to us by our good friends, Tim & Ruth Schloss. As you can see, the tomato plant we’d planted in the compost is dead (whoops) but look what IS growing!
If you can identify it, let me know! To me, the most novice of all gardeners, it looks perhaps like some kind of climbing bean or pea? It definitely has tendrils, and a cute little yellow flower that I hope will grow into something edible! I love the way that learning often happens in surprising ways and surprising places!
We recently had to move house (for the 3rd time in 2 and a half years) because (again) our landlord sold our house. This time we’re in a long-term rental with a wonderful landlord who actually (believe it or not!) wants us to use the yard for chooks, vegies etc. Yes, that’s right: he WANTS us to! This is a dream come true for us, because we’ve wanted to do something like this for SO long, but it’s usually difficult, if not impossible, when renting.
The challenge is that the backyard currently has a massively overgrown weed problem, coupled with plain grass on top of hard dirt! The weed problem has been overwhelming & getting us down a bit, and as we’ve started to get rid of them we’ve discovered an even bigger problem: huge root systems (as in, TRUNKS!) that we’re going to need to get rid of too!
Whilst feeling overwhelmed and disheartened about that, we figured it might help if we actually PLANTED something! So today we did it. We planted a passionfruit vine!! We chose the one part of the yard where there actually ISN’T weeds, which made it heaps easier.
It took me so long to work out the best way of doing that (and in the end we’ve pretty much just bunged it in), that I’m a bit worried how long it’s going to take us to do the rest LOL! I tend to read LOTS and plan LOTS and actually DO…. little. My ideas and planning can paralyze me. I tend to spend so much time planning and learning, that I hold back from actually “doing”.
So yeah, it’s going to be a huge learning curve for all of us. But fun along the journey too, I hope. And in the end? Well, you never know, we just might end up with some food to eat! 🙂