Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

BAU

July 9, 2017

There seems to be an overwhelming consensus (amongst those who accept the reality of climate change anyway), that the world needs to move towards energy sources which are renewable and non-polluting (CO2 is a pollutant, in case you weren’t aware).

Although I haven’t seen it expressly stated*, the implied meaning in all of the discussion is that we need to keep the present energy-hungry, human-centered world running as usual (what is usually abbreviated to BAU, or ‘business as usual’).

Will another source of energy change the way we see the natural world and our relationship to it? Will it mean we won’t continue to destroy the forests and pave over the soil, destroying all the life under it? Will it mean we’ll attempt to control our burgeoning numbers? Will it mean we’ll cease our present behaviour which is causing the extinction of other species at thousands of times the background rate?

No, it won’t mean any of that, because that’s not what BAU means. It means going on as we are. It means continuing to act as though the world belongs to us. It means continuing to do as we’re doing until ecological collapse eventually kicks in and kills most of us off.

David Attenborough has gone on record as saying that humans are now a plague on earth. Nature’s ways of controlling plagues are not pleasant. I don’t want to live in such a future. I don’t want BAU and I don’t want us to find another source of energy that makes it possible.

 

*it doesn’t need to be expressly stated. It is there, humming away in the background, in the myths we tell ourselves. It is our present culture—a culture that has been called the ‘Culture of Maximum Harm‘ and the ‘Culture of Make Believe‘.

 

Deep Ecology

July 6, 2017

Below is the full text of an article from Resilience.org. I’ve just posted it to my Facebook page and I’m putting it up here because I (and many others like me), believe that we can’t save the biosphere (and our species, which depends on it), unless there is a fundamental change in the way we view ourselves and our relationship to it.

I first discovered Deep Ecology many years ago. It profoundly changed the way I think about myself and where I belong. It fostered a huge interest in ecology, evolution and especially the way the human mind works, because that is the source of all our present problems. I encourage all my readers, after reading this, to do some more searching into the history and foundations of the concept.

 

Deep Ecology: System Change with Head, Heart and Hand

By Christiane Kliemann, originally published by Degrowth.de

Every day we are bombarded with frightening news. But how do we personally feel about them and how can we deal with them as society as a whole? Which future do I actually want for myself, for the world and for my children? And how are my personal feelings and motivations connected to the larger picture? What frightens me, what makes me angry and how can I transform these feelings into a source of power and energy for change? These and many other questions are at the center of what´s called “Deep Ecology” or “The Work That Reconnects”.

What is Deep Ecology?

The term Deep Ecology was coined back in the Seventies by the Norwegian philosopher and environmental activist Arne Naess. In her book Coming Back To Life American activist and system theorist Joanna Macy describes it this way: “What does it mean or matter to be interdependent with all Earthly life? In exploring this question, deep ecology arose, both as a philosophy and a movement. (…) In contrast to reform environmentalism, which treats the symptoms of ecological degradation – clean up a river here or a dump there for human benefit – Deep Ecology questions fundamental premises of the Industrial Growth Society. (…) Often expressed as biocentric, this perspective holds that we must break free from the species arrogance that threatens not only humans but all complex life-forms within reach”.

With this, Naess aimed at develeping something he called “ecological self”, a kind of wider identity which, starting from the people closest to us, draws ever widening circles until it includes the whole Earth with all its beings.

On the basis of holistic science, psychology and spiritual traditions Joanna Macy has enriched this theoretical concept with practical exercises. “The Work That Reconnects” as she calls it now, not only wants us understand, but also experience that everything is interconnected. Such experience can give us hope and empower and inspire us to courageous collective actions, as Macy has experienced with thousands of people all over the world.

The time of the “Great Turning”

Macy conciders our contemporary time the time of the “Great Turning” in which humanity faces unprecedented challenges: Threats such as climate change, biodiversity loss, the degradation of forests and soil, ocean acidification, poverty, wars and increasing social conflicts show us: the world as we knew it is coming to an end and even humanity might go extinct, if not complex life on Earth as such.

At the same time we have enough knowledge, technologies and opportunities to turn human civilization “from the Industrial Growth Society to a Life-Sustaining Society”. New insights from e.g. system theory and quantum physics disprove the mechanistic worldview and confirm old spiritual wisdom: that the world consists of a network of relationships and living systems which are all connected by flows of energy and information. A network that has developed in more than four billion years of Earth history, constantly refined over millions of years, with an immense self-regulation capacity which we can support and which supports us.

The power of shifting perspective

This is why Macy sees our current systemic crisis mainly as a crisis of consciousness: As long as we perceive ourselves as separate individuals seperated from the world and from each other, and view our life-experience only in relation to the Industrial Growth Society, we feel helpless and frightened and can hardly imagine any solution outside it. When we perceive ourselves as part of the living eco-system “Earth” though – with its billion years long history – we can see the Industrial Growth Society as what it is: only a glimpse in the timeline of evolution, despite its destructive power.

Once we experience ourselves as inseparable part of the web of life we realize that true well-being for us can only happen in harmony with the whole and all of its parts. When other humans or living beings suffer, we cannot stay untouched. This is what Arne Naess meant when calling for an “ecological self”.

Why do we know so much and do so little? Emotions as guides

According to Macy, deadening and numbing what she calls “our pain for the world” is one of the main causes for the contradiction between human knowledge and human action or, more scientifically, our cognitive dissonance. Just as body-pain is a vitally important feedback to keep us from doing damage to ourselves or others, emotional pain is an equally important type of feedback for us and the people around us. When we suppress this pain or distract ourselves from it, the whole web of life is cut-off from information vital for its self-regulation. Moverover we cut off our own creativity and vitality either, since deadening or numbing doesn´t work in one direction only but includes the whole scale of our emotions.

Deep ecology in turn opens spaces to feel and share all our inner reactions to the state of the world and to experience that they don´t break us but make us stronger. Slowly a new consciousness for the whole can emerge which makes us take on responsibility for ourselves and what is happening in the world.

Which story do I want to tell?

In order to find our own role in these times of change it can be helpful to keep asking which story I actually want to tell and pass on with my life. Story in this sense does not mean a fictional tale but the way we set our expieriences and observations in a larger context of meaning. What our imagination of the future is concerned, Macy has identified three main stories that are happening in parallel, depending on the taken perspective:

1) Business as usual

This story is the story of the Industrial Growth Society. It confirms the pleasantness of modern life and does not question that it can go on forever. Progress is measured in material consumption. We hear it from politicians, business schools, corporations, advertisement and media. It is based on the following assumptions:

  • Economic growth is a precondition for prosperity
  • Nature is mainly a source of raw materials which can be exploited by humans
  • Fostering comsumption is good for the economy
  • The main purpose in life is to get ahead
  • The problems of other people, nations and species do not concern us

2) The great unraveling

This story confirms the threats we are exposed to and focuses on looming catastrophes. It is being told by scientists and organizations concerned about the social and ecological consequences of our civilization. It mainly talks about

  • Economic decline
  • Resource depletion
  • Climate change
  • Social divide and wars
  • Mass extinction of species

These two stories contradict each other and draw totally different pictures of the world. Business as usual, however, takes us on confrontation course with reality and immediately leads to the great unraveling which feels like a horror-story that makes us feel small and powerless. But luckily, there is still a third story going on Deep Ecology wants to help unfold:

3) The great turning

This story is told by the countless groups and initiatives in various fields that are striving for a new socially just and ecologically sustainable culture. They daily increase in numbers and size, but we can only perceive them when we step back and direct our focus on them instead of getting lost in seemingly separate events around us.

This story empowers us, especially when we keep in mind that many little changes can interact with each other to set in motion unpredictable groundbreaking transformations. One recent example for such disruptive change is the fall of the Berlin wall back in 1989 which nobody had expected.

What is my story?

Which story do I personally feel associated with? Do I always act accordingly or do I follow different stories, depending on the situation I am actually in? Am I conscious about these contradictions and can I do more to further identify with the story of the great turning?

Deep Ecology wants to empower people to become part of this story and find their individual role in it with their personal talents, dreams and other strengths. It is neither an ideology or dogma, nor does it hold readymade solutions. Just like the degrowth-movement, it rather encourages people to join the collective quest for the good life for all on a healthy planet.

To close with the words of Albert Einstein: “A human being is part of the whole called by us “Universe”… a part limited in time and space. He experiences his thoughts and feelings as separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his own consciousness. This delusion is a prison for us restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”

Beyond Collapse—the future of civilisation

July 1, 2017

I’ve just posted this podcast to my Facebook page and decided to share it here:

http://legalise-freedom.com/radio/john-michael-greer-beyond-collapse-the-future-of-civilization/

It’s an interview with John Michael Greer, one of the world’s foremost writers on the predicament facing mankind as it heads into the twin crises of climate change and oil depletion over the next few decades (oil depletion) and centuries (climate change).

Some of my readers may have been regular followers of John’s blog, The Archdruid Report, which he wrote for 11 years and which has has just folded up in favour of a new blog he calls Ecosophia.  The new blog will examine the false stories we’ve made up for ourselves about our place in the Universe and where those stories have finally taken us—a damaged species on an increasingly damaged planet.

John makes the point that the human beliefs in the myth of progress and the ‘worship’ of humans as god, need to be abandoned in favour of a new story; one which sees the natural world as a sacred place and humans as just one small part of it. This is nothing new to me—along with many others, I’ve always felt a spiritual connection to the natural world. I’ve never accepted the idea that it is just a load of resources for humans to plunder for their own benefit.

Growing a garden and especially one which provides most of your food, is the first step towards an awareness of the natural world and a connection with all living things. If we don’t all start making these connections soon, and start teaching the next generation, we doom them to a life of mental and physical ill-health on an increasingly sick planet.

 

What we’re losing

June 26, 2017

Restoring Mayberry is one of my favourite blogs. In this latest post, The past is a foreign country, Brian Kaller documents the way our society is changing and the  important things we’re losing.

I suppose young people today know none of this and probably have no concerns anyway. They will grow up in a destructive, damaged system as destructive, damaged adults and think it is all quite normal.

Could you eat just once a day?

June 8, 2017

Here’s an interesting video I just came across:

 

And another link on the same subject.

Could you do it? Could you exist on one meal a day?

I don’t think I could. Not one meal. But I think I could do two meals a day, particularly if they were low-carb.

If you look at the bottom of the second link article, you’ll see a panel showing four types of what’s called ‘intermittent fasting‘ :

  • alternate day fasting
  • the 5:2 diet
  • periodic fasting
  • time-restricted feeding.

About 18 months ago, I tried the 5:2 diet. I wasn’t exactly overweight, but I was carrying some extra poundage, indicated by the fact that only one pair of slacks still fitted me comfortably. Getting into the others was a bit of a struggle. It was either lose weight or buy some new clothes.

The 5:2 diet was hard. Cutting 2 days a week to 500 calories wasn’t easy. An egg is 100 calories! A small tin of flavoured tuna is 100 calories! 100 gm of steak is 250 calories! You’ve got to be joking! I would wake up in the night desperately longing for a piece of cheese! On the fasting nights I would go to bed thinking, “yippee, I can eat tomorrow!” I think I lasted a couple of weeks, then I changed it to cut food intake down to 1000 calories every day. That’s about the basal metabolic rate for someone my age and I figured that any extra exercise I did would be burning up those extra calories from my hips.

Over the course of 2-3 months I lost 8 kg. I felt much better; wasn’t so tired after a day’s work in the garden and lo and behold, all my slacks fitted again. Money saved on new clothes!

Of course, as with all diets, the weight came back again when I started eating normally. But only 4 kg of it. I deliberately kept biscuits, cakes and sweets off the menu from then on (well…..just a couple of pieces of chocolate with coffee after dinner—not half a block of the stuff).

Some time ago I discovered low-carb, or LCHF as it’s more commonly known (Google it…..there are hundreds of links) and I’ve switched to that. I don’t think of it as a Diet with a capital ‘D’, it’s more a lifestyle. I’ve given up rice and pasta; I’m eating far more vegetables, plus meat and fish, full fat dairy, stacks of butter and only minimal fruit (mainly what comes out of the garden). More weight is slowly coming off, too.

Anyway, that’s the reason I think I could ‘do’ two meals a day. According to the definition in the table I referred to above, I’m already on ‘time-restricted’ feeding without even trying. My last meal of the day is over and done with by 6 pm in the evening. I don’t eat again till around 8 am and I’m never really hungry then. I only eat because, well….it’s breakfast time and breakfast is what you do in the morning.

I would really like to get my blood pressure down naturally, without having to take the drugs I do and I’d really like to see if I can reverse (or lessen) the symptoms of the rheumatoid arthritis which hit me some 15 years ago. Worth a try.

And it might be a good rehearsal for when the wheels begin to fall off industrial agriculture and food availability becomes a bit tenuous.

April update

May 3, 2017

Autumn is one of the best times in Melbourne—I love the way the bush looks on misty mornings :

As we move into the cooler months, work in the food garden mainly involves cleaning up the remains of the summer crops—removing tomato plants and climbing beans and getting the tubs and wicking boxes ready for winter crops.

I harvested Jerusalem artichokes. These are some of the bigger ones. There were many smaller ones which I’ve replanted :

Jerusalem artichokes are also called sunchokes. They don’t store very well—about a week in the fridge say most sources, so I’m investigating drying them with a view to using them in casseroles. I’ve sliced some and dried one lot without blanching and another lot with blanching—dropping the slices into boiling water and removing them as the water comes back to the boil. The unblanched ones didn’t go brown, which is helpful as blanching is an extra time-consuming step I would rather not do unless necessary. I tried them roasted—scrubbed but unpeeled—they took about 20 mins to soften and were quite acceptable, with crunchy skins. In the past I’ve just cut them into thick slices and fried them until soft. The carbohydrate in sunchokes isn’t starch as in potatoes; it’s inulin. Wikipedia has this to say:

Inulin is indigestible by the human enzymes ptyalin and amylase, which are adapted to digest starch. As a result, inulin passes through much of the digestive system intact. It is only in the colon that bacteria metabolise inulin, with the release of significant quantities of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and/or methane. Inulin-containing foods can be rather gassy, in particular for those unaccustomed to inulin, and these foods should be consumed in moderation at first.

The production of gas in some people without the correct intestinal bacteria is the reason why they’re often referred to as Jerusalem ‘fartichokes’. I can’t remember having any obvious problems, but then I don’t pig out on them. I just see them as a valuable additional food source that is easy to grow.

There are four pumpkins ripening—Naranka Gold and Kent—two on each plant :

Cherry Guava are ripening. They soften quickly after being picked so I need to find a way of preserving them :

I picked a few pears. Although both trees flowered well, only the Williams variety set fruit and despite trying to get a net over most of it, the birds (or possums) got most of them :

Seeds were collected—garlic chives and Purple King climbing beans :

Kindling wood was chopped for winter fires (actually it’s an ongoing job) :

This is Redbor kale direct-sown in a wicking box. Two different leaf shapes have appeared—not surprising, as this was collected from plants last year and Redbor is a hybrid form, so it looks as though some plants have reverted to the parent forms :

Tamarillos are ripening :

Carrots direct-sown in a wicking box. Looks like I’m going to have to pull up a chair and do some thinning. I over-sowed because the seed was old. I didn’t expect such good germination :

I planted garlic and some cloves didn’t sprout. Haven’t had much luck with garlic the past couple of years, but I keep trying :

Persimmons are ripening. I’ve got them covered in the little nylon socks at the moment. They’ll be more obvious and in danger from bird and possum attack when the leaves have fallen. Last year I picked them when they had some colour in them like these and they ripened inside. I might try that again this year. Every one of these beautiful fruits is more precious than gold :

Asparagus fern is starting to die back. When it’s all dead I’ll cut it back to the ground and fertilise the area ready for spring. I can’t wait for the season to begin again. Last year I was eating fresh asparagus every other day :

Warrigal Greens survived the summer and has taken off with the recent rain. I wonder if I could harvest it and interest a local restaurant in buying it?  Unfortunately, not many people know about it as a nutritious native plant and spinach substitute. Anyway, it makes a useful ground cover :

I haven’t found many mushrooms so far. I missed seeing a huge one the size of a dinner plate. By the time I discovered it, it was infested with slaters. I’ve picked and dried a couple of smaller ones.

Melbourne’s average rainfall for April is 53 mm and we had 89 mm. The first couple of weeks were warm and sunny, but temperatures have dropped into the teens now.

Onwards to winter and warming casseroles beside the wood fire. Bye-bye salads.

Home, home on the range…..

April 17, 2017

….but no deer and antelope playing here.

I’ve been wanting to put up a post for ages showing a plan of my particular ‘home on the range’ and the various growing areas, but have been defeated by trying to manipulate the installed drawing programs on the computer. I’ve finally decided to save a Google Earth shot and use that with additional photos.

So here it is :

home4

The property is one hectare (2.5 acres) in area and there’s a gentle slope from the top left corner of the photo to the bottom right (south-west corner to north-east corner). When we bought it 17 years ago, the areas labelled 1 and 2 and the house site had been previously cleared of understorey vegetation (with a few trees left) and were covered in weedy grass. The rest was remnant natural bush, mainly what is classified as heathy woodland in this locality, with a bit of grassy woodland on the north side. The natural, undisturbed soil in the bush area is deep grey sand supporting the heathy woodland and with a clay subsoil under the grassy woodland. The cleared areas 1 and 2 were mostly heavy clay infill, introduced after a previous owner removed the natural sandy soil and sold it for topsoil (we didn’t know that at the time—a neighbour told us later).

Areas 1 and 2 were the natural choice for the vegetable garden as there were minimal trees and it was in full sun for most of the day (the horrible, sticky, infill clay soil only became apparent after I tried to put a spade into it!). It also sloped slightly to the north, which meant good drainage.

We wanted to protect the bush section and arranged with the Trust for Nature Victoria to put a protective covenant on it, to prevent it ever being cleared. The covenant is binding on present and future owners. Of course, I now realise that there’s no such thing as ‘in perpetuity’, and it will eventually be cleared. I don’t expect an organisation like the Trust for Nature to survive the end of industrial civilisation, and the land will probably be wanted by a future owner to grow food during the collapse of industrial agriculture when oil seriously begins to run out. Nevertheless, I do my best to keep the bush intact and follow the management plan written by the Trust for the property.

We began clearing the weedy grass in area 1 for the vegetable garden, which started out by being 2 big wooden boxes, 2 m x 1 m x 90 cm high, into which was thrown anything and everything that would compost. I decided built-up beds would be easier than trying to dig that clay (and the rabbits which were starting to appear by then couldn’t reach up into the boxes). On the higher part of the slope above the boxes, we began planting 2 rows of fruit trees in zig-zag formation.

I grew quite a lot in those 2 boxes initially and as more home-made compost started to mount up I formed it into a long sausage shape on the ground. I thought it would be a good spot for pumpkins, having already learned that rabbits didn’t like pumpkin leaves.

The trouble was that the blackbirds loved the compost sausage and constantly dug into it, scattering it everywhere, exposing the plant roots and generally making a mess, as blackbirds always do. So I formed the compost into round piles and surrounded each one with a circle of wire about 80 cm in diameter. The wire circles mutated into what I called my ‘olympic rings’, but which a friend more aptly called ‘crop circles‘. They looked like this :

Eventually I ended up with 5 sets of rings, all in a row, making 35 individual growing areas—15 full rings and 20 half-rings. The growing medium in all of them was built up with composted material. The rings are 45 cm high and the compost, when I can get enough of it, is built up to about 20 cm.  The underlying soil wasn’t dug into at all. The wooden boxes were eventually abandoned.

Initially I watered by hand using water from the 9000 litre tank beside the house. The slope was enough to get a reasonable pressure by gravity alone. Later on, I made watering circles with fine sprays that I could just click the hose into and leave for half an hour or so. Sometimes I just prefer to stand there holding the hose. Hand watering is a favourite time for just observing, thinking and planning.

tuesday 001
tuesday 005

Area 2 wasn’t developed as a food garden at all. I planted fast-growing wattles there to harvest for firewood, because cutting live trees from the bush was out of the question although there was plenty of dead stuff in there and branches were always falling. Areas 1 and 2 weren’t covered by the covenant—they were considered as the ‘domestic area’—where conservation isn’t the primary object.

When I did the permaculture design course six years ago, I realised that everything was badly designed, or rather, not designed at all and I set about trying to rectify it. The main food-growing area was too far from the house (zone 1), where it should have been, so, having discovered the wicking bed concept by then, I began establishing a series of wicking boxes and tubs around the house, for the more intensive growing typical of a zone 1 area. The ‘crop circles’ have been retained but mainly for winter crops, like garlic and leeks, where constant watering isn’t needed so much. All around them I’ve planted more fruit trees and other perennials to create a food forest.

Zone 1—wicking boxes and tubs near the house :

The 3 oval shapes to the right (north) of areas 1 and 2 were originally covered in weedy grass. I wanted some pools, so we slashed the grass and had a chap with an earth mover come in and dig out three pools (the 3 ovals). The overflow from the water tank runs down beside the path and into the first pool. It’s very shallow, only just above my ankles when full. Because of the slope, the water overflows into the second pool and then into the third. The second is a bit deeper, almost knee high and the third probably up to my thigh, although they have all become shallower over the years as debris accumulates on the bottom. The first pool usually dries out in summer and in a very dry summer the second will as well. There have only been a couple of summers when the third has dried out completely. Usually there’s a still a boggy puddle in the middle by the end of the season.

The first pool :

Stupidly, because of not knowing much about water plants, I planted reeds and rushes at the edges of the pools. Of course, they migrated towards the centre as water levels dropped and now there are no areas of water free of growth. The most prolific is the native Water Ribbons (Triglochin procera), which is supposed to have edible tubers utilised by the aborigines, but I’ve dug down almost to China and have never found anything remotely tuber-like to eat.  It has spread profusely from seed. At least the ducks like fossicking in amongst the strappy leaves. But it’s good nutrient for composting, so each summer as the water disappears I cut it down with hedge clippers and add it to the compost. When the rains come and the pools fill again, I get a couple of months of seeing actual water, before it all regrows again.

This is the second pool, looking towards the third. There is water in it, but it’s not exactly visible unless you’re standing right beside it. It is good frog habitat though (I’ve recorded 6 species), and a White-faced Heron comes regularly and stands quietly in the water, making frequent darts at edible goodies :

image

The path on the right runs the full length of the property, from the house to the rear fence. On the right (south side) of the path is the food forest and on the north side of the pools is remnant bush, so it divides the property into 2 areas—conservation and food-growing.

I’m now thinking about what to do with area 2. Most of the woodlot trees have either died and fallen over, or fallen over while living and I’ve been removing them and tidying up the area. This is what it looks like at the moment :

img_3316

I’m thinking of extending the food forest into area 2. I’ve started to dig a few swales, with a view to planting fruit trees and I allowed edible chickweed to take over as a ground cover through the winter and spring. It has all died back now, but has left a useful legacy of millions of seeds. That’s self-sown Warrigal Greens (New Zealand Spinach) on the left and I’ve raked sticks into a hugelkulture mound with swale behind, on the right.  As a food forest it won’t get any watering, so I need to think about what I plant that will tolerate what are probably going to be drier and hotter summers. It means doing some research about plants that will survive with an average rainfall of 640 mm annually (about 25 inches). That’s the next big project.

What I’m going to do now is take a walk from the house down the path to the back fence (about 150 metres) taking photos all the way on the right hand side of the path. The bush will be on the left. So here we go.

I’m standing with the house about 2 metres behind me. First up, in the background, are some Manna Gums, not close enough to ever fall on the house, but big enough to flatten anything they did fall on :

Just some native plants underneath at present :

Past the first lot of Manna Gums and some more native plants and a couple more Manna Gums. There’s feijoa, redcurrant and tamarillo on the left. They’re planted in the drainage line that takes the grey water from the house. Never any watering needed there :

The gums aren’t very healthy and have already lost some huge branches. Further down the path—there are some hugelkultur beds just visible on the left of the path, with asparagus, rhubarb and an espaliered Granny Smith apple :

The seat is where I cut my kindling wood, with a bow saw (lay the branch on the seat, hold it down with a foot and cut—no, the branch, not the foot) :

Beyond that is a bath where I’ve been collecting rainwater and then comes the compost tumbler :

The bath is going to be converted into a dedicated potato bed and I’ve been filling it with weeds and prunings to compost down in preparation. There’s still water in it and I’ll have to reach down through the gunk and find the plug to pull before I can get the potato bed going. That’s a pumpkin sprawling over the top of the kindling heap.

Behind the tumbler are 2 compost heaps inside wire cages and an elderly compost bin, acquired from a friend who didn’t want it. The bin takes weeds and shares veggie scraps with the worm farm, which is under the house. One of the compost heaps (with the blue tarp), takes the material from the composting toilet and the other takes just weeds and other debris. Slow composting. I’m not into tossing stuff around with a pitchfork. Haven’t got the energy anymore :

We’re now coming to the main food forest area and the row of crop circles in the foreground. Behind are citrus trees—Japanese Seedless Mandarin, Valencia Orange, Washington Navel Orange and Lisbon Lemon. Behind them, an Imperial Mandarin that doesn’t do well. Oh, it produces lots of mandarins, but they’re only golf ball size, if that. I generally don’t bother picking them. I read that Imperials don’t do well in Melbourne. I think it’s more a case of it doesn’t get enough summer water for its liking and it’s at the top of the slope, so probably a bit too well drained. I’ve dug individual small swales behind each fruit tree and I fill these with water once a week during summer. I’ve planted 5 tamarillos within the crop circles, thinking that when I watered the veggies in the circles the tamarillos would get watered too. They survive OK but those big floppy leaves need a lot of water and they eventually end up as trunks with all the leaves at the top (the one in the foreground is newly planted) :

A bit further down and there’s a lime in the back row and in front an apricot (Moor Park variety), a self-sown plum, a couple of d’Anjou pears and a seedling Red Delicious apple (hasn’t set a lot of fruit—it’s due for the chop). The thornless blackberries are under the net on the left. This section on the right is at the bottom of the slope, there are no swales for each fruit tree and they seem to do well enough without a lot of summer watering. I suspect water is moving down through the soil from the swales on the slope above :

Further down the path (the 3 pools are now on my left) and there’s a quince, loquat, plums further back and asparagus (gone to fern) in front. Somewhere in there as well, there’s a dwarf Stella cherry, 2 pears, 2 apples and a seedling-grown apricot :

Now we’re coming to area 2 which is what I want to open up as another food forest. There’s a couple of huge wattles beside the path (a Black Wattle and a Blackwood) and a seat that has seen better days which, if you sit on it (don’t try it until I’ve hammered all the nails back in), you will be facing the third pool in front of you:

Now we’re past the seat and another shot of the area I want to add to the food forest :

We’re almost at the end of the path—it curves round to the left here and runs along the rear of the property, but since a huge branch of a Swamp Gum (half the tree, in fact), fell across it, there’s no access. The neighbour behind me says he will come and cut it up for me when I’m ready. He’ll get the big logs (which I can’t split) and I’ll get the smaller stuff. There’s a gravel path under all those leaves—just haven’t raked it for a while :

Finally, a couple of photos of the bush section. There are numerous walking and maintenance tracks through it.

From the deck :

Further in :

Along one of the walking tracks :

And that’s about it. It’s a lot of work, looking after the food-growing areas and managing the bush, but I couldn’t go back to living in quarter-acre suburbia again. It is so quiet here; the neighbours are far enough away to not be visible or audible (yet they are friendly and helpful when you do see them) and it’s amazing how the presence of so many trees moderates the climate by creating coolness on hot days. I am incredibly fortunate to live here.

Feeling fine about the end of the world as we know it?

March 20, 2017

An interesting look at human behaviour. Not sure if it makes me feel positive or negative about the future.

See what you think.

February update

February 26, 2017

Well, it looks like summer is almost over and a coolish one it was. We didn’t have any days over 40º C and the ones in the 30’s didn’t drag on for days on end, but were punctuated by cooler days. Hot, northerly winds on the hot days were conspicuous by their absence. It was calm, simmering, fry-an-egg-on-the-footpath heat.

It has been the worst year for tomatoes I can remember. The cold wet spring meant I didn’t get them planted till early November and straightway they started to get blight—late or early, I can never work out which—but the lower leaves get yellow patches and brown spots and gradually that creeps up the stem leaves. This time they got some other sort of lurgi as well, where the lower leaves just went brown and shrivelled. I’ve never had that before. Luckily, the upper leaves just managed to keep ahead, but the whole lot looked very sick and sad. But at least the cherries started to ripen this month :

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I’m not drying any this year—I haven’t got enough, the weather hasn’t been great for sun-drying and I still have plenty of dried ones left over from last year. I’ll freeze the excess instead and use them for casseroles and soups in winter. I still have 2 packs of frozen cherries from last year in the freezer.

The eggplants are doing well, flowering and setting fruits. There are just three, in one large tub :

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I’ve never grown them before—in fact I’m not even sure if I like them. I’ve eaten them out but never bought them to cook at home. If they’re going to be easy to grow, I guess I can learn to like them!

I grew these Italian Long Red (rossa lunga) salad onions again this year, because they were so easy :

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And so pretty :

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The seedling-grown purple muscatel grape is setting a couple of bunches for the first time :

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I tried one and they’re surprisingly quite sweet even at this stage. I hope they grow a bit bigger and I’ll wait till they colour up before picking them.

These are carrots from a wicking box. I agree, they wouldn’t win any prizes! I think the wicking boxes aren’t deep enough to get a good, long carrot. Not to worry—they’ll make good lunchtime nibbles.

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Apples are ripening :

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Those in the big basket are from a seedling tree, grown from a seed of Red Delicious. Apples are notorious for not coming true to seed. It looks like they have a few Granny Smith genes in them, which wouldn’t surprise me, as the 2 original varieties are growing next to each other. Those on the top right are the real Red Delicious, just starting to colour up and those at the lower right are Cox’s Orange Pippin. I bought it because it’s supposed to be the Queen of apples (or something like that) but I can’t say the flavour is anything to write home about. The good ol’ Red Delicious is still my favourite and there’ll be a good harvest this year because I have a net over the tree :

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I keep poking my head under to check :

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I’m going to dry as many as I can :

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I planted some of the turmeric tubers I grew last year (and kept some back for drying) and they’ve sprouted and the plant has grown even bigger than last year :

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I’ve kept the pot in the polyhouse over summer and now there’s not really enough room for both of us, so I’m wondering whether to risk putting it outside for the winter. Has anyone grown it outside this far south?

The Girls have all moulted and stopped laying, so I’m buying eggs at the moment. Nice, new shiny coats for the winter :

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This is Evening Primrose. It’s self-seeded and more or less taken over this spot beside the pool :

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I grow it for the seeds (when the parrots don’t get them). The oil in the seeds is supposed to have a high concentration of gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) which is good for reducing inflammation. According to a study reported in the Lancet, GLA-rich evening primrose oil was found effective in controlling rheumatoid arthritis in a substantial number of patients. I have RA so I’ll try anything that helps. I put the seeds in my bread.

Finally getting enough Purple King climbing beans for a feed. They’re on a wire frame at the rear of a wicking box, which also contains basil, parsley and some self-sown mizuna. I really get my money’s worth out of a wicking box! :

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Looks like I’ll get quinces again this year. I’ve protected some with apple socks (the one on the lower left) and the birds or possums have had a go at a few (upper left) but mostly they’re untouched. The tree still gets those brown fungal spots on the leaves but I’m not into spraying with chemicals, so it has to cope as best it can :

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Pepinos are ready to ripen :

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We had 2 nice dumps of rain in February—one of 37 mm and one of 40 mm—exceeding Melbourne’s monthly average of 46 mm. There were a couple of smaller falls as well. It topped up the tank and made a huge difference to the garden, especially to the size of the apples which I hadn’t bothered to thin.

Roll on autumn. The nicest time of year in Melbourne (usually).

 

Postscript

That eggplant. I wasn’t sure when to pick it. The experts said, ‘when it’s black and shiny’. So….. :

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Yes, I know. Laughter is permitted, but rude comments are not!

Not “Living The Lie”

February 13, 2017

Reblogged from Not Something Else

I was inspired today by a shared post on Facebook, recommending the video you will find below.  Inspired enough to reshare it and also to make this declaration.  I hope that any and all readers may…

Source: Not “Living The Lie”