Year out, year in

2010—the best rainfall year in the 11 years I’ve been keeping records. We had 1025 mm (that’s 41 inches if you’re not metricized).  Melbourne’s average is just 640 mm (just under 26 inches). The amount of new growth on plants was just amazing. How I’d love to live in a climate with 40 inches all the time.

So it came as a bit of a shock to see the temperature rise to 40 deg C on the last day of the year. I was ready with shadecloth to put over the tomatoes and other tender plants. I’d watered well the day before and everything was as hydrated as it could be. Most things wilted but not alarmingly and as soon as the sun went off them and the air temperature cooled the growth firmed up again, indicating that there was still plenty of water in the soil. The wicking boxes, as usual, sailed right through with nary a hiccup. Plenty of water in the root zone and a modicum of shade seems to be the answer.

Also on the last day, I scored 3 humungous bags of lawn clippings from a friend’s lawnmowing contractor. He even delivered them right to my door! There was a moment of panic as I realised there was so much heat generated in the bags that I couldn’t put my hand in, but I managed to get them distributed between 2 compost bins and the compost tumbler, interspersed with sugar cane mulch (I’d been watching Geoff  Lawton’s compost-making technique on DVD, you see) and managed to keep the temperature below 70 deg C. (It wasn’t quite the proper way to make compost a la Lawton, but I’ve got a lovely lot of organic material ready to add to my vege beds).

So what’s in store for 2011? I don’t normally make New Year Resolutions (too easy to break them), but here’s what I hope to achieve:

  • Continue to work at food self-sufficiency, including researching new species to grow
  • Design a permaculture system for neighbours and help them put it into practice (already underway)
  • Help a friend begin to grow some of her own food (already underway—she already has her first water-wicking box and today we installed her a worm farm)
  • Start putting together a set of class notes for  my first attempt at teaching permaculture—only a short introductory course at first, but which will form the basis for ultimately having a go at teaching the full 72 hour course (still have to get a copy of the Designer’s Manual for that).

Phew! I think that’s enough!

PS The Geoff Lawton Soils DVD I’ve linked to above is really worth buying.

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