Archive for August, 2011

No chickens yet

August 29, 2011

I don’t look like getting any chooks for at least another month yet.

I want to visit this breeder who puts on a ‘meet the breeds & chicken care information session’ each Sunday afternoon and a friend wants to go with me. We’re having problems finding a mutually-free Sunday afternoon, but it looks like the end of September might be a go-er.

I don’t want hybrid Isa Browns. I know they’re considered to be the best layers, but I’m more interested in getting loads of chook poo for the vegetable garden than loads of eggs. I don’t normally eat many and I’ll probably give most of them away anyway.

In keeping with the ethics of maintaining indigenous vegetation and growing heirloom veggies, I want to have heirloom chickens as well. I’m looking at Barnevelders or possibly White Sussex, but I do like the beautiful lacy look of Wyandottes, so it will be good to talk to someone who knows the ins & outs of the various breeds, before I make a decision.

Barnevelder

White Sussex

Silver-laced Wyandotte

In the meantime, I’ve cleared away an area of bush behind the chicken run and fenced it off. After struggling with a roll of wire, I decided to use these zinc-coated steel panels which Bunnings sells in sets of 4 as ‘yards’ to store leaves and compost. I had bought several sets for another job and they weren’t being used any more. They were so easy to erect and extras can be added easily. The new yard’s a tad bigger than the run where their coop is. I’ll put a small access door in the end of the main run so they can get into the new area and will let them forage in there when I’m home, but lock them back in the secure run when I’m out, and at night.

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Permaculture teacher me…..

August 28, 2011

…..well not quite.

When I did my Permaculture Design Certificate course (PDC) a couple of years ago, I always had the idea that one day I’d like to teach permaculture.

I don’t have the confidence to start by piling head-on into the full 72-hour PDC course, so thought I’d maybe begin with an introductory course involving a couple of full days, say, over 2 weekends, when people would be better able to attend.

However things happened and the idea was put on the backburner, where it’s still simmering away.

Recently, a friend has asked me if I’ll run a permaculture workshop for the members of a community garden she’s involved in, and I’ve said yes.

It’s next month so I’m starting to think about how I’ll do it. I’m told I’ve got about 2 hours and there might be a dozen people.

The thing you begin to realise after doing a PDC is that the topic is so vast and all-encompassing—a whole new way of living and thinking—that it can’t be explained in the sort of 30-second soundbite that people want for explanations these days. There are plenty of definitions around, but they don’t do justice to the scope of the thing.

However, I’ll begin with some of the many definitions I’ve collected, explain where the word comes from and the Mollison/Holmgren beginnings of the concept.

Next, I’ll deal with the 3 permaculture ethics and briefly cover the 12 design principles. I have a great set of fridge magnets I bought from David Holmgren, showing the icons and slogans for each principle, so they’ll be good to take along.

I’ll run through the design process starting with sector and zone analysis, and designing the layout for the elements of a permaculture system. I’ll get them to do a needs/products/functions  analysis for some of the elements (the chicken is an easy one), so they can get used to the idea of making connections and integrating rather than segregating.

I’ll mention some important concepts like creating swales for water harvesting (I’ll be able to take along the A-frame I put together for marking out contours), and creating grey-water systems.

Some time ago, I did a design for a friend’s suburban block, not because she was keen to implement it (she’s in her 80’s), but just to show her, as a way of explaining what permaculture is, the sort of thing that could be achieved. I’ll take that along also, to show how a bare, lawn-covered block can be converted into a productive and beautiful landscape.

It should be an interesting exercise. They’ll be learning about permaculture and I’ll be learning how to teach!

The fridge magnets—the 3 ethics and the 12 principles

Two good buys

August 21, 2011

I scored two good buys at my local Sunday market today:

The pot contains French Sorrel (Rumex scutatus). I was introduced to sorrel when I did my permaculture design course and it was growing in the garden where I did the course.  I sent away for seed and what came back (as it appeared later) was ordinary Garden Sorrel (Rumex acetosa). I didn’t know at the time that there are two species, French and Garden, and that French is considered the best for flavour.

Most of the seed suppliers I looked at just call it Sorrel and give the botanical name as R. acetosa. I’ve been on the lookout for R. scutatus for a while so was pleased to see the herb lady at the market had the real thing. I know it’s the real thing because the specific name ‘scutatus’ means ‘shield-shaped’ and you can see that the little leaves are indeed that. It’s also smaller in habit than Garden Sorrel.

Here’s my plant of Garden Sorrel. The clump is 30 cm high, 50 cm wide and still spreading:

On to the second purchase. The three fruits are tamarillos—the yellow form. I’ve never seen this form for sale anywhere. I’ll eat one, to see if it’s different in flavour to the red form and I’ll keep the other two for seed. It’ll be nice to have the two colour forms growing side by side. I wonder if they’ll cross-pollinate and produce hybrids, or remain true to form? Better do some Googling.

I’m all oca-ed out!

August 16, 2011

I’ve started harvesting oca in earnest. All the stems have died down and I need to get them out so I can prepare the beds for the summer stuff.

This is the harvest from just one bed, about half a square metre in area. To give an idea of the scale, they’re sitting in an upturned rubbish bin lid:

There are some nice big tubers in this lot and there are still 2 more beds to harvest!

I only eat these raw or pickled (not cooked) in flavoured vinegar. Some people say they’re delicious roasted. I’ve boiled, roasted and microwaved them and to me they’re well,…….bleaaaah!

I pickled a couple of jars today. It’s a pity the colour bleeds out of them, because the effect of the dark-coloured internal rings when they’re sliced crossways, is lost. But they’ll taste good in salads, anyway:

Later edit:

My pickling liquid recipe is below—after one of the comments.

A day in the life of an orange

August 5, 2011

From tree:

To dryer:

To chocolate coated orange slices:

Doesn’t get any better than this!

Chooks Ho!!….update #13….finished!

August 1, 2011

It’s all done!

With the gate now installed, the chookyard is finished. I’m really pleased with the result, especially as I did it all with no help (at least no physical help—Google helped with some of it, like how to make and install a gate):

Only thing is, even though it’s 6 square metres in area, I feel it’s too small for three full-size chooks, so what I’m going to do is clear away some of the natural bush behind it and fence off another area, at least as big again, with just a metre high fence and throw a bird net over the top so they can’t fly out. I’ll cut a small hole in the end wall of the yard and install a lift-up gate for access to the new area. Then I can let them roam in there when I’m home. Because of foxes, I wouldn’t be game to leave them in there when I’m out.

Once I clear the extra area, I can broadcast seeds of chook forage plants and they’ll have those to fossick around in. I’ve already ordered a packet of Clucker Tucker seed mix from Green Harvest. Love the name!

I might even plant some dwarf fruit trees in there and create a mini orchard which they can fertilise.