Archive for the ‘Backyard Farming’ Category

I just came across this interview on Alchemy Radio (An online alternative podcast / show) a couple of days ago, Dr. Wayne has good plans and future transition options for a better future for worldwide society.

alchemy

Dr. Wayne speacks about various subjects such as water retention / sustainable regeneration, aquaponics, land regeneration, Permaculture, Free courses online etc.

Find the interview Here: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/alchemyradio/episodes/2017-04-27T10_54_41-07_00

 

 

Some of you may have heard a few people making the statement: ”I am a no dig / no till gardener” what they meant about that is that they do not follow the standard of turning or rotavating their soil every year especially in the Winter.

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Woodchip Soil Amending – year 1 and 2 onwards

No Dig gardeners do a little bit of digging, but only what is necessary such as digging a hole to place a plant in it’s final outdoor location. They Do Not however, systematically dig / till the soil every year.
One of the arguments used to justify this ficticious practice is that they are bringing up nutrients which are / have leeched deep down.
Gardeners the country over, including very experienced people on Allotments have no actual clue about the sub surface bacteria and how they are exposing these beneficial organisms to the elements and also burying them too deep which kills them off!
In permaculture we call it the Soil Food Web and it comprises the entire system from soil microbes, to fungi mycelium, the plants, moisture, decomposing matter etc…

Nature does the work for us, we just need to learn to observe and only intervene by taking advantage of the observed clues, one good example is with the Austrian Farmer Sepp Holzer, he noticed as a boy that Strawberries grow much better and produce larger / jucier fruit when stones were placed beside the plants, he also noticed how White Clover also helped (Nitrogen Fixer).

The below image describes a better understanding of exactly how the different organisms in the ‘Soil Food Web’ play their roles which interact with other organisms in the system:

soil food web

If for example, you buy a house or start a garden somewhere and you find that the soil is heavy clay, you will of course need to dig and place soil amendments (preferrably natural) in the first year on a once off occasion, thereafter only an annual surface layer of mulch is needed to feed the system with fresh compostable material, nature literlaly does the rest and after a longer period of time you will have a very healthy soil system on that particular patch of land.

So, a few bags of clean sharp sand to help break up the clay, perhaps a few bags of compost and I would say as much woodchip as can be obtained, these materials should be worked into the soil up to the depth of perhaps of one spade blade. If your woodchip is fresh, you should not grow anything in this soil for at least a year, so this year you could at least use the space to host a row of pots which will hold plants for this one season, next year you will grow directly in the ground.

Rotovating or working the soil every year destroys the food web and basically resets it everytime, in the case of using a rotovator on heavy clay, the blades actually compact the ground under the bed being prepared and pretty much can cause this layer to become a water barrier, this I have seen first hand and the plot in question was always flooded at certain times of the year … In my whole opinion, using a rotovator is only necessary in the first year of soil amandment.

If you have a perennial weed problem (weeds which die down in winter and re-sprout from sub surface root networks in spring) you can use sheet mulch (aka lasagna mulch) after your soil amendment is added and then your final layer of the woodchip or mulch layer of your choice.

I challenge any skeptics to do a control experiment where they dedicate half of their beds to a no dig with mulch method and see the difference year after year …

phils

Looking at my ”Country Stat’s” on this blog, it looks like the Philippines is going to take the lead ahead of Australia this month in views (Australia seems to always be third in my stats right after UK and USA who always both dominate 1st and 2nd place), I’m not entirely sure why they suddenly seem to be searching for Permaculture or finding my blog in particular (Perhaps it is my previous article on GM Rice?) but I have decided to dedicate an article based on Organic and Permaculture projects that I have seen there. I have previously searched for either a Permaculture Farm / Forest Garden or Tour video to include the country in my long list of ”Videos and Tours”. I just never got around to sharing or writing an article so, here we have a few videos to view for any Filipino’s looking to self educate and then be able to try grow healthy food  for themselves and family / community.

So, Salamat for Stopping By, here are a few videos, Some are in Tagalog and I think the one in Bohol is in Bisaya with some English thrown in by the video uploader and some of his friends, enjoy:

Video 1: Urban Agriculture Philippines – (15 mins), container growing, aquaponics, rabbits etc.in an Urban setting (Tagalog)

Video 2: Maribojoc Organic Demo Farm Bohol pt1 (After Watching Part 1, the other parts will be available to watch on the side suggestion bar on youtube) – Entrance to this Demonstration Farm is PHP30 per person! That’s Cheap considering what you will learn …

https://youtu.be/X4AMG6P9qww

Video 3: 1 Project Freedom, a Permaculture Demonstration Site, Tublay, Benguet, Philippines (It will be interesting to learn from them if one can take the time out to go on a tour and visit the site)

Please remember, this is an active blog where you Do Not need an account to be able to use my comments section, anyone can comment selecting ”post as Guest”, please comment and get communicating with me and others, Permaculture is also about community and learning 🙂

Further Reading / Educational = Previous Article: How to build a Banana Circle to increase crop flavour, nutrition and yield!

 

This is a good video tour of a Four year old food forest, I would say this is a definite watch for anyone who needs a better understanding of a food forest system and what it entails. The video owner has many such like videos showcasing his project’s entire history (journey).

Video: (4Year Old Food Forest, Bay Area California USA) [19 Min’s]

https://youtu.be/L5RfruUjL1w

Further Reading / Articles about Food Forests:

Previous Post / Article on a 20 Year old Mature medicinal Food Forest

Previous Post -Video Tour of a Front Garden Food Forest in Denver USA

 

So the remining Pumpkins and collectable fruits are finished picking and harvested, I will be puree’ing much of the pumpkin and placing it into the freezer, this should be good for smoothies as well as pumpkin soups in the upcoming months! Below are some pictures of the fruits as well as some tips on producing home made Liquid Plant Fertiliser further down …

My growing season is not yet over though! there are Carrots, Lettuces, Spinaches, Mustards, and Kales that were sown before the start of Autumn, these will grow on throughout Winter and there are more to sow soon including Garlic!

We are nearing the end of the best time to sow Garlic (November), Garlic is quite easy to grow and I suggest starting now as I find Spring sown don’t get as big. I shall post an article soon regarding Garlic and Succession planting with Garlic.

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9.7 Litres of Home Made Sustainable Liquid Plant Fertiliser

If you have a normal sized general purpose bucket, you can easily make just under 10 Litres of Liquid Plant Fertiliser per batch on an established mature (2+ year old) Comfrey Plant (Bocking 14 Variety).

Following these instructions but just increasing the ratio of Comfrey and water to fill the bucket to the rim, then all you need besides the bucket and a water supply etc. is a well established Bocking 14 Comfrey Plant! Do not underestimate these plants, they grow very well once established and will need annual controlling (Luckily they are bred to not set seed) yet are an absolutely invaluable addition to any Organic / Sustainable food garden or plot. They can be chopped 3 – 5 times a year without worry and come back to life in early Spring. Their deep rooting system is their secret, it harvests minerals not available to the shallower rooting plants nearby and deposits these minerals in their leaves, hence why you either chop ‘n drop or chop and make Liquid Fertiliser / Compost Tea.

I will be selling Comfrey Root Divisions from January onwards – my Comfrey is definitely the Bocking 14 variety and I have never had any Comfrey weeds growing as a result, if interested just comment on this post (Anyone can comment, not only WordPress users).

Make Comferey Compost Fertiliser once more when you do your final chop, this stash of fertiliser will last you the duration of Winter and will be the reserves for spring until the first new year batch will be ready …

As promised, since it is Blackberry season (at least here in the UK it is), here is my simple Blackberry Pie recipe with fresh pictures and berries from Today’s pie I made for the family.

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Remember, there are many uses for Blackberries (they can be frozen until needed for Smoothies, Jam etc.) freezing may be unsuitable for making pies though so this recipe has been added first so you can use freshly picked berries. Personally after having tried at least 5 cultivated berries from different locations for home growing (thornless Blackberries), I can say that all of them did not come close in taste and deliciousness to their Native Wild counterparts!

They may have been much larger in size and appearance, but it’s the taste that counts and Wild Blackberries are far better – I suspect that flavour was lost when selectively breeding a thornless blackberry variety, I could be wrong though.

Ingredients for a 20cm diameter pie dish:

  • 200 g ( 7 oz ) blackberries
  • 450 g (1 lb ) cooking apples
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 500 g ( 1lb ) shortcrust pastry
  • 75 g (2.5 oz) brown sugar (white can be a substitute here)
  • half teaspoon of cinnamon powder
  • one quarter teaspoon ground ginger

Recipe Instructions:

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Step 1: Core, peel and slice the Apples into wedge pieces, melt the butter In a pan, then add the Ginger Powder, Cinnamon, Apples and Sugar.
Mix in well and let sit on low heat for about 10 minutes.

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Step 2: Whilst waiting for that to cook through, lightly grease the pie dish and add the pie pastry on the bottom, be careful not to leave gaps by pressing in on the sides.

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Step 3: Slice the excess dough with any knife, my new favourite is a basic cutlery knife rather than a sharp cutting knife as usually recommended

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Step 4: Pour in the apples and their juice (Save some for tomorrow?) and pack gently

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Step 5: Pour the Blackberries over the apples

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Step 6: Place the remaining pie pastry over the top, slice the edges again with a knife then with a fork, crimp the edges as you would do on any pie recipe – finally, brush coat the top with the beaten egg.

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Step 7: Place in pre-heated oven at 220 Degrees Celsius for 10 minutes, then reduce to 180 Degrees Celsius for another 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from oven, place on a wire rack (I use my stove tops at the back) to cool down, if you like a warm / hot pie then serve after 10 minutes, if cold, place in your fridge so it can served after a couple of hours.

This was a fun recipe this time, I’m glad to have successfully tried it out today and will definitely always try to make a few of these when the season is right, the taste was a sweet tart mix.

I usually have quite a lot of left over pie pastry, you can always keep aside some apple pieces and blackberries to make mini hand molded Cornish Pasty shaped mini pies to ensure nothing goes to waste …

In the coming days, I will post the Blackberry Jam recipe so please do visit back soon

With basic problem solving in building a pond system in your garden, just take a look at photo’s online after establishing your goal/s. My own goals are three to four things, namely:

  1. Wildlife promotion
  2. Pest Control
  3. Microclimate
  4. Additional Edible Plants

With these points in mind and with Wildlife Promotion and Pest Control being the main two objectives, the pond will have to be habitat friendly and provide food source / forage opportunity and shelter.

Previously I posted an article (Click Here) titled ‘Wildlife and Frog Friendly Ponds’ where at the very end, I posted one picture and challenged my viewers to ”spot the mistakes”, below in the same image, I have circled the problems which wildlife (mainly frogs and newts) would experience in that particular design …

perma ponds - wrong doings complete

here’s the list of issues that would need fixing to bring this pond to be very beneficial for wildlife:

  1. Do not create a ring of stones without gaps between, these stones will heat up during the day and may become too hot for organisms to access the ”emergence zone”. I would completely remove smaller stones creating a gully and I would plant soft ground cover such as Mind Your Own Business ‘Soleirolia soleirolii‘ which will grow between the rocks and give the pond a rustic feel eventually
  2. This clump of plant is too large and should be reduced soon, the best is to have different species of plants with different functions rather than only one
  3. There is a lack of plant diversity Especially that I cannot see an oxygenating plant (this pond size is ideal for at least 5-7 plant types including at least two oxygenators) This will provide much needed in-habitat shelter and cover from predation as well as housing for the future generations of tadpoles etc.
  4. Looks like there is no gradual slope making it easy for frogs and newts to exit easily, this includes that there is not enough cover planted outside the pond which would provide much needed shelter for emerging / entering wildlife (there are a few but not ideal)

If you remember above I mentioned four goals I have for my pond requirements, the remaining two were Microclimate and Edible Plants, with microclimate I have placed my small pond at the base of my squash / pumpkin trellis, the pond will reflect sunlight underneath the leaves of the sprawling / climbing plants and assist in the microclimate by storing heat and slowly releasing it at night.

In terms of edible plants, since my pond is quite small I am only going to have water mint at this time as my regular mint (in a pot) is not doing so well, so at this early stage I’m going to only experiment and see how it goes, water mint is also very beneficial to bees and pollinators so it definitely ticks a box in terms of Permaculture.