Thursday, March 20, 2008

Winter ills already (plus books)

Despite it being march I have already come down with a bad flu like illness. After my gardening class on sunday (which went well I thought) I was feeling exhausted and ended up going to sleep fairly early. The next morning I awoke with what I thought was a cold. Its a few days later and I still feel exhausted and weak but I think I'm finally getting over it.

Despite the flu I did manage to get another two wine barrels planted up. I have put the wine barrels in sunny spots near to the house (Zone one areas) and have planted the barrels thickly with salad greens, silverbeet and a few broccoli plants. Hopefully these barrels will inspire us to throw a salad together or add some extra vegies to the meal expecially in the coming darker winter evenings.

I have also got two books from and am waiting for a couple more. They are.

DamNation - dispatches from the water underground.

A sobering look at americas destruction of waterways across the continent as well as useful advice on grey water and water conservation.

Here is a video of a grey water workshop run (I think) by the primary authur of DamNation

The Woodland Way - by Ben Law.

An inspiring guide to woodland management.

Here is a google video of Ben Law building his house using timber from the forest he manages. I found this video heartwarming and really appreciated Ben Law's amazing personality

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Goings on in the garden

The garden continues to flourish with the high temperatures and decent amount of rain we have got recently. Some summer vegies like basil, tomatoes and beans are just hanging in there while autumn crops like peas, brassicas and silverbeet are growing well.

The main thing I have done recently is empty and refill my pond. Ponds provide habitat for a range of beneficial insects and contribute towards the overall health and stability of any garden. My pond however is surrounded by mulch and the chickens constantly scratch mulch into it. So yesterday I pumped the green water onto the garden, put the mud which had built up into the compost pile and refilled with fresh water.

I am trying to track down a supply of black barrels to make a greywater system and to store rainwater in so I'm phoning round food importers. No luck yet but I hope to get enough to give away rainwater barrels on the gardening course I'm running which begins on sunday.

I still dont have a camera but may borrow a friends on sunday to get some pictures of the garden.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

"In the world I see - you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You'll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You'll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you'll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighway."

Thursday, March 6, 2008

This Video is Awesome


I'm starting to wonder if I'm a bit obsessed with improving my soil. Last week I posted about how I bring several cubic meters of woodchips and weeds onto my property every year. Well yesterday I got home and found that one lot of my neighbours had moved out and the landlord was cleaning the place up. In the process he chopped down a couple of trees and severely trimmed most of the trees on the property. When I saw the huge pile of branches he had made it was a bit too much of a temptation. Before I knew it I had offered to take the entire pile and explained that I wanted it to make compost out of. The landlord obviously thought I was crazy but it meant that he didn't have to get a skip bin in so he was very happy for me to take the pile. Its now sitting in my driveway while I try and figure out whether I should compost if which will take one - two years given the size of some of the branches or whether I should chip it which would mean hiring a commercial chipper for about $60 bucks.

The other interesting thing about the tree's being removed is that it dramatically changes the dynamics of my site. The garden will now get an extra two hours sun in the morning but is much more exposed. I feel sorry for the people who move in next door as he has removed some of the trees which protected the house from the cold southerlies we get in New Zealand. The health of the people next door not to mention the heating costs will be dramatically affected.

I've really begun to notice how permaculture and a general appreciation of the natural world revolutionise the way I see the world. Now I constantly think about temperature, slope, plants and instantly see some of the many cycles which surround us.

I still have a few more branches to move and need to tidy up the yard for a party tonight so I will have to post about the social dynamic with my neighbours at some other point.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Food Prices

The rapid increases in the price of food are beggining to scare me. According to this article in the New York Times the price of wheat is 80% higher than a year ago. It points to biofuels as one of the main causes with 14% of US corn in 2006 used for biofuels expected to rise to 30% by 2010. How will the world cope with these kinds of price increases? And its been shown that the rich can afford biofuels even as tens of millions starve for want of food.

This is scary because no one knows how to respond to this kind of situation. Back yard gardening is fine and all but unless practiced on a masive scale will realistically have little affect on food production. Going back to the land is fine as an individual strategy but does not change the global picture. I feel the only viable response is collective organising against biofuels and for price caps and food subsidys. This kind of organising could be important to western nations far sooner thansome of us may expect.

Anyway the chickens need feeding.

Hattip cryptogon

Saturday, March 1, 2008

What I'm Watching

I've stumbled on a treasure trove of permaculture films which have been uploaded to google video, they are all excellent films.

Aside from watching these I have done a bit of sheetmulching of the grass berm on the side of our property.

In grave danger of falling food -

Permaculture and Collapse -

Permaculture in practice -

Learning from Ladakh -

Grand Designs -

Farming with Nature -