Films, motivation, dreams and plans

I follow a blog by a new but wonderful blogger who lives pretty locally to me, Lynda from Living in the Land of Oz. She’s pretty new to the blogosphere (like I’m such old news myself ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) so please pop over and check her out. I’ve learned some very important things from Lynda. We’ve chatted on the phone, shared laughs, shared information and contacts and more. Her most recent blog post however is about another great eco film about a woman turning her traditional Devon farm, run using fossil fuels and traditional farming methods, handed down over thousands of years (although more recently mechanised) into a farm that can and will be sustainably run once the pending peak oil crisis hits us. The education I received in that one short hour! The mind blowing information, revelations and honest home truths left me absolutely floored! And VERY inspired. Inspired enough to raid the kids art drawer, pull out the textas (marker pens) and paper and get designing. Well, drawing more like. I’m not much for design to tell the honest truth. lol The most frightening comment made in the film though is the belief that the critical year for this crisis is 2013. It fits with what i believe, that’s for sure.

Anyway, long story short, I had planned to plant an orchard out the eastern side of our house where there is currently a stand of silver Poplar trees weeds and this had evolved into a hugelkultur inspired orchard but has been upgraded to the gold standard now. ๐Ÿ˜€ The plan is to chop out the trees weeds, remove the debris (there are rows upon rows of roofing tiles in there, all brittle and useless though I think)ย and grass weeds (I might just put down cardboard mulch), poison out the tree stumps (if only there was another affordable and practical option but truly there really isn’t ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ) then put the logs back in, cover them with a high nitrogen source (hoping to follow up some friends with horses) and cover the lot with soil. I’m debating on poplar tree borders and mulched poplars to fill the area but that will result in higher carbon output from the trees and hence a higher nitrogen content must be added – more horse poo or fresh mown grass etc – but that is highly dependent on being able to beg, borrow or steal an industrial mulcher like council workers and tree loppers use. Anyone have access ๐Ÿ˜‰ We also need to channel a lot of standing water from our front garden that accumulates on our thick clay soil in depressions in our oh-so-even front lawn over winter. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Rather than dig swalesย which are basically shallow channels like the ones that run down the middle of freeway verges, a time consuming and energy consuming practice, we’re planning on low but (hopefully) effective channeling hugelkultur beds which will also help absorb and use that excess water. ๐Ÿ™‚ I figure we may almost end up with seasonal creek beds running across the garden, all of which we can channel into the creek thatย dissectsย our block. I also need to put paths through the beds to allow access to plant and harvest the trees.

Now however, with this heading to being a forest garden I have at least ย 28 tabs open in Chrome to look up cultivars of trees, to assess the qualities of the plants I plan to have in the forest garden and their compatibility with our soil, climate and each other as well as their safety (as much as my kids love rhubarb I am anxious about planting it as I am not sure whether the leaves being highly poisonous is too much of a risk to take) and growing properties. I mean, does it matter if the garden ends up with an under-carpet of mint if that mint is drawing up nutrients that will aide all the other plants? This is what I am ready to research this morning as I sit here typing by candle light. ๐Ÿ™‚

Forest gardens are layered forests of edible or beneficial to edible plants, set out similar to how a real forest is. Large trees, an under canopy, large shrubs then smaller ones, climbers using the taller trees to haul themselves up and ground covers that suppress weeds, protect roots and help trap moisture. There are plants that fix nitrogen with their roots (legumes), plants that draw nutrients up from the deep (comfrey), trees with deep roots that draw water (as do the poplar trees and it’s probably why they were planted in the first place) and also trees that flower, drawing the pollinators. If you want to know more, check out here, here, hereย and here or ask Dr Google. There is heaps of information out there. ๐Ÿ™‚

So Lynda, I just want to thank you so very much for your post.ย You have focused my direction, guided, educated and inspired me incredibly. From the bottom of my stomach (it IS a food forest after all) I thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

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16 thoughts on “Films, motivation, dreams and plans

  1. Sue says:

    Currently have an old post from Milkwood open on just this subject! I too am debating where best to site a newly planned food forest! Good luck with yours!

    • And good luck with yours. ๐Ÿ˜€ Please share your thoughts and plans with me. I have big ideas and little practical knowledge at this stage but as per my normal I will just suck it and see. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Linne says:

    I have not learned nearly enough about forests and orchards, obviously! Thanks for all the links, rabid. Again, I’ll have to follow up when it’s possible. As to rhubarb, we always had it in our gardens when I was a kid and none of us nine (or any others) ever ate the leaves. I suppose it helped that Mum and Dad taught us early to cut the leaves off and put them on the compost. We had carraganna bushes, too (they are high and used for windbreaks), right by the house. The berries are poisonous, but we were taught not to eat them and didn’t. My kids never ate anything poisonous, either, including some of my houseplants. That said, I know some kids seem to be more adventurous about putting things in their mouths. Is your property large enough so that poison plants could be set further from the house? By the time most kids are 6 or 7, they seem to be able to learn this sort of thing and then it wouldn’t be such an issue. Hard to say, isn’t it? I don’t suppose all that will be too helpful in the end. ~ Linne

    • Both my boys are VERY tactile and Orik is often found with something in his mouth, toy car tyres, pieces of dolls house or smaller duplo accessories. He’s not swallowed anything yet and it’s nigh on impossible to keep him away from the smaller things. Gives me nightmares! If he isn’t eating things he will run his hands along them, through them or run things along his hands. Hair, fire guards, water, etc. Jas was the real “eat everything” kid when little although he’s very good now thankfully. He won’t eat things we tell him not to most of the time but we’ve not come across situations where there is an actual risk in eating something, like poisonous berries etc. Allegra though is the one I think most likely to eat berries she shouldn’t out of the older 2 so I’m going to be very careful to begin with. I can most definitely plant the rhubarb elsewhere but they are such a great forest garden plant I think. Ah well, I can add them in in the future. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. LyndaD says:

    Thanks Jessie, you must be so excited to see the possibilities and to imagine how its going to be. I’ll keep my ear to the ground re mulcher. Work has lots of contacts. I had someone i bumped into at McD getting coffee (who mentioned they were having trouble growing grass for kids) pop by and pick up runners of Kikuyu. I dont know him from a bar of soap but who cares – community in action and perhaps he’ll pass it on. I feel good about it but my husband is very confused LOL. Going to Bunnings today for fittings to hook my new water pump (Birthday present from work) so i can empty my 2000L tank onto the garden instead of using town water. Step by Step by Step………

    • Lol, they could have had my entire front kikuyu lawn if they’d asked me! wretched stuff! ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Thanks for keeping an ear out regarding the mulcher. I figured I would put it out there to the community and universe and see what turned up. If it is meant to be it will be provided. ๐Ÿ™‚ If not then traditional hugelkulture with logs it will be. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Nice gift of the pump! Sounds like “the boys” really understand you. ๐Ÿ™‚
      I hope you don’t mind that I promoted your blog either. I probably should have asked but your post and that film have fired me up hugely. I’m itching to be able to start clearing then planting. On fire! ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. foodnstuff says:

    Don’t forget to put the hugelkultur beds in the front garden on contour.

    The carpet of mint will be fine (I have mint and lemon balm). You can chop it back periodically and leave the choppings as nutrient-rich mulch. As you acquire more plants, just plant them into the mint. Eventually the mint’s growth will come into balance with all the other stuff.

    Thanks for the link to Lynda’s blog. I’m off to watch that film.

    • Could you elaborate a bit more with contour? Our garden is (very) gently sloping down to the north east but there are pockets of holes and gods only knows what under the tile stacks. the plan is to merge swales with hugelkultur beds to make use of the water and channel any excess towards the creek. I have the basic plan in place but the finer details are definitely needing a LOT of work. I’m plant researching as we speak. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • foodnstuff says:

        If your garden slopes, no matter how gently, then you will have contours (lines at the same height above sea level–like on a map). Water holding ditches (swales) are always dug on the contour lines; that way the water that collects stays in the ditch (level) and doesn’t run out the ends. The object is to keep it stored in the swales so it eventually soaks into the ground.

        If you put your hugelkultur beds on contour (and because your land is gently sloping, they will probably be reasonably far apart), the water will collect at the base of the beds and soak in under them. You can dig small swales along the upside of the beds and throw the soil onto the beds to build them up.

        It’s a bit difficult to know how much detail to go into here as I don’t know how much you know about permaculture design and swales, etc. but it should be possible to design the system so that the excess water from the hugelkultur swales goes into the creek, while still feeding the hugelkultur beds.

        I’d be glad to help but this way is a bit cumbersome. Is there any way we can exchange stuff via email, without us actually posting our private emails in these comments boxes?

        Will send you some links anyway via another comment.

        • I know very little although I can intuit a bit but even so I’m a total noob at it. I shall email you. ๐Ÿ™‚ I would greatly appreciate ANY information you have to share. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. The Life of Clare says:

    What a brilliant concept, I love the idea that mint can be planted as a ground cover! I can’t wait to have property of our own so that we an start building things like this, rather than just using available space in our rental. Thans for the inspiration!

  6. narf77 says:

    Forest gardens are the bomb :). Don’t forget to check out Jackie French’s book about forest gardening in Australia. It’s all well and good to read about what other countries are doing (most books are about Northern climates) but our soil is unique as are our conditions and Jackie shares how to map out, plan, and grow your forest gardens (she calls them “groves”) in our local conditions. She has mangos and avocado’s growing on her property where it gets frosty every year. It’s all about how you set it up and her book “The Wilderness Garden” is all you need to start growing organic perennial gardens (read forest gardens) in our conditions ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you! ๐Ÿ˜€ The Wilderness Garden shall be added to my library. Mmmm Mangoes and avo’s. Some avo’s will tolerate frosty and cold conditions and my parents had grown 3 from seed and potted out, all about 3 foot high but they’ve been sadly and sorely neglected and there are no leaves left (I wonder what gave itself a tummy ache eating them) so I need to start again from scratch with those but well worth it. Mum’s cado’s taste so far superior to the shop bought ones it’s like comparing apples to organic mangoes.

  7. narf77 says:

    Cheers for the new addition to my RSS Feed Reader by the way ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. […] blogged before (here,ย here, here, here, here, here, andย here) about our ongoing hugelkultur experiments. Hugelkultur […]

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