Parr's Permaculture Design

Parr's Permaculture Design

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Melliodora Garden Tour - November 2011

David Holmgren's home, Melliodora (named after a species of Eucalyptus tree) is based in Hepburn Springs near to Daylesford. 
One of the co-originators of Permaculture and author of many books, David has a 2.5 acre property which produces around 1.5 tonnes of fruit and veg each year for personal use (consumption, gifts & exchange). Early on in the talk he mentioned that there is obviously much labour required to set up the garden in the first instance but then when your garden becomes so efficient at producing and you need to harvest it all... that takes even more labour than the initial setup.  Something to take into consideration when you buy acreage for production! 

Passive solar design house in the background, well tended veggie beds at the back door. 

A few of the notes I took away with me from the tour:
All the wood on his property is untreated. Treated pine can leech chemicals into the soil, and ultimately be taken up by the plants you are growing (and eating!), so best stick to untreated wood. 
How long does it take to grow wood? We need to make sure we use the wood for at least as long as it takes to grow it, that way we ensure that we're making best use of the resource.

After a few different trials, this a-frame style trellis is the best version in one instance for tomatoes, and another for climbing beans. To treat tomatoes as a vine seems to be the way forward.
The planks are the walkways for maintenance and harvesting, compacting as little soil as possible. 

Bamboo does grow in Victoria, only certain varieties which are of the thinner diameter. Here's an awesome trellis design made from bamboo harvested on-site. 

Hand tools vs power tools.  Maintaining tools is an important job (a stitch in time saves nine). Hand tools are easily maintained with little effort, whereas power tools more often than not rely on continued assistance from the manufacturer to keep them working well.  To stick to hand tools as much as possible gives greater resilience to peak oil, the knock on effects of our dependance on oil is something worth keeping in mind.

Cold frame: a very simple use of old glass and pot plants to give a simulated greenhouse effect for seedlings. 

Perennial guild (collection of plants that will live harmoniously together): Potatoes, horseradish, asparagus & scarlet runner beans.

Fig trees are not ideal next to veggie garden, however artichoke thrives under/near a fig tree, as they grow in winter when the fig is dormant, and visa versa. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Southbridge, Canterbury, NZ - November 2010

Packing things in closely means I can gain the most from my time, with just 3 months to learn what I can before going to Tasmania (in 4 weeks), I feel like I’m definitely winning!  I’ve sampled so much!  After Hepburn Springs, I flew to New Zealand.  I have a soft spot for this beautiful & diverse country... friendly people, proud history, and snow capped mountains.  That’s NZ in a nutshell.
I’ve come over to teach juggling workshops at Circulation Festival, run by good friends of mine, Dan and Logan. Set at a scout camp deep in the Dunedin hills, needless to say it’s beautiful country but not much to do with Permaculture. However, I always plan my trips with time either side to catch up with friends, so bypassing Christchurch I stayed with a juggling friend Adrian, who lives in Southbridge, about 30 mins south of the city. Just a mention of a goat-shed building and chooks was enough to get me there for a look.
Within a half an acre (2,000m^2 = a fifth of a hectare) Adrian and partner Andi, along with their children (Emily [6], Tara [1]) have around 20 chooks, 3 dogs, 1 rabbit, 3 cats, and 4 kittens stashed in the cupboard. Down the road, they are managing several goats (2 kids, 1 feral & 3 does) with another family who are holding the goats on their 25 acre property.
With Adrian’s handyman skills and Andi’s relentless passion in the kitchen, the two of them make a very productive and healthy household. Adrian takes ideas from many different schools of thought to make up the systems he has in place, chook domes from permaculture, garden beds from landscape design...
Below are the permie-relevant photos I took during my visit... I had to be quite strict not to include a photo of a litter of kittens (& pups!) so I could keep to the subject appropriate to this blog.  The full set are available on my Facebook page.

Goats Milk
A short drive down the road from their home are the goats.  We milk one of them and get just under 4 litres of milk from her.  Females are called Does, males are Bucks, and there’s one other: Feral.  A feral goat is the offspring of unregulated/unkept goats that usually have poor characteristics, such as low milk yield, low weight, or unfavourable temperament. It is possible to breed a feral back to a purebred, if you know what one of its breeds is, and then only allow it to reproduce with that breed for several generations. After one breeding, the first offspring becomes a 1/2-breed, the next a 1/4, then 1/8, 1/16, 1/32. Once the offspring become 1/32, it has been bred back enough to be classed as a ‘purebred’.

This is a home-made milking table. As long as the goat has food, it’s happy to be milked. We left a bit of milk for the kid does to take afterwards (the goat is kept away from her kids until the milk is taken, so that maximum yield can be taken). The milk is screened to take out any skin or hair, and served raw at the table.  I had it for breakfast today and it was delicious, it didn’t taste any different to cows milk.

Cheese making.
Andi has learned everything from books over the last few years, and is still learning. This was only her second attempt at making fetta, and has already seen a big improvement on last time. You do need to add a couple of ingredients (rennet and a culture), but the process is really quite straight forward.  Once heated to the right temperature, and ingredients added as per the recipe, the milk starts to separate, curds on top, whey below.

A big part of the process is getting the whey out of the curds. Cutting the curds into squares when they are ready helps tease the whey out further. After 20 minutes of whey leeching, the curds are spooned into a cheesecloth and let to drip as more whey finds its way out.  After a few hours of hanging, the cheese is ready.  It tasted quite light as soon as it came out of the cheesecloth, the next day however, it had started to develop some flavour. As it develops further each day its worth tasting it regularly to find the point when it is at its best. And then eating it!

Chook tractor:
Chook tractor domes, an idea borrowed from Permaculture, a fantastic way to keep chooks and have them serve your garden in many useful ways. They are nutrient providers to the earth, organic pest controllers, providers of meat, eggs and friendly company too. You can see the pseudo-mandala design here, each bed the size of the dome so that the chooks can be rotated and the beds planted season by season, each time the beds get a good serve of nutrient and the veggies do nothing but thrive!