Archive for December, 2009

Dynamic accumulators

December 14, 2009

Dynamic accumulators are plants with extensive root systems which bring up nutrients from deep in the soil where other plants can’t access them. The top growth is regularly cut and can be added to the compost heap, used to make nutrient tea, or simply left on the ground as mulch.

In our permaculture design class we talked mostly about two of them: comfrey and yarrow, but there are many others as this list shows.

I’m growing comfrey and yarrow specifically as accumulators, but I’m pleased to note lemon balm, borage and bracken on the list as I have them growing as well.  I use lemon balm for herbal teas and I grow borage for the bees—they love the bright blue flowers. Bracken grows all over our bush block and I’ve known for some time that it accumulates potassium. I put it through the mulcher and use it for compost and mulch.

I’m establishing yarrow under all my fruit trees and I’ve put comfrey at low points in the garden to mop up any nutrients that might be wanting to escape via run-off from vegetable beds. Last year I made a batch of nutrient tea by stuffing loads of comfrey into a 60 litre bin of water and letting it rot down (a bit smelly to begin with, but the plants loved it). The yarrow is flowering at the moment and attracting lots of tiny native insects as pollinators.

A word of warning with comfrey: don’t put it anywhere you need to be digging regularly; cut roots will sprout readily and it’s said to be very hard to get rid of. A single undisturbed clump will slowly increase in size.

PDC…..Week 13

December 5, 2009

It’s all over!  (Sob! Where’s the tissues?)

Yes…….today was the last day of our 13-week Permaculture Design Course and we are each the proud possessors of an Official Certificate from the Permaculture Institute to say we’ve been there, done that.

The first couple of hours were spent putting the finishing touches to our designs and then it was on to the presentations—4 in all; 2 for the 5-acre hobby farm and 2 for the community garden. Each design of the pair different and yet each similar in incorporating the permaculture principles we’d spent 13 weeks learning. Comments, questions and helpful criticisms followed—all part of the ongoing learning process. I consider it was a lucky day when I followed a link to Forest Edge Permaculture and found Cam and his PDC. Particularly lucky, as there will be no more such courses, at least in my part of the world, for Cam, Jessie and little Yarrow will be moving to Canberra soon to start a new permaculture life.

So, where to, for me, from here.

Next year I plan to re-open my backyard hobby nursery, selling, not indigenous plants this time, but permaculture plants. Edible trees & shrubs, herbs, vegie seedlings, dynamic accumulators (you may well ask, so see the next post), etc, etc. And I plant to promote this way of doing things from now until I become a pile of worm castings, because I think it is the only way we will save ourselves from the uncertain future of energy decline and climate change which is ahead of us.

I also plan to do a couple of designs; one for neighbours and one for a friend, to keep my hand in. I have lots of retrofitting to do to my garden to incorporate the principles I’ve learned. Later on (much later) I hope to teach permaculture. If I can be as good and as successful a teacher as Cam, I will be content.

So, to Cam, Jess and Yarrow, good luck with your new venture in Canberra. To Andrew, Bianca, Carly, Cheryl, Dani, Daryl, John, Paul, Sabine,  Sandy, Sarah and Vicky, I wish you all well in following the permaculture path to a better future. It was a great 13 weeks!