World Permaculture day, David Holmgren and Melliodora and a day off from the kids

Time off is an important part of staying sane. For a full time stay at home mum with 3 kids under 5 life is challenging. There are days where things go smoothly, kids are dressed, fed and we’re on our way somewhere with minimal issues. Then there are other days that descend into madness, or worse yet, hell, and stay there until bed time. Those are the days I try very very hard to never think of again except to vow to do all in my power to prevent it happening again. Most days however are somewhere in between. This morning for example, I have a half naked child playing on cold tiles refusing to get dressed. The other 2 are happily playing although one is also not doing as told and so I get the chance to sit and blog whilst I await some obedience (getting dressed or putting on shoes are not difficult tasks). As I said, I don’t mind too much although if it starts to rain again they will find our plans are off. Can’t play in the garden when it’s cold and raining.

Yes, I said raining. ๐Ÿ˜€ I was woken this morning by my alarm and as I lay there I realised it was accompanied by a far more pleasant yet quiet, constant and in the background noise. ๐Ÿ˜€ Rain. ๐Ÿ˜€ Blessed precipitation! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m not sure I remember the last time we had rain of any quantity sufficient to wet the washing. ๐Ÿ˜€ Probably February I think. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ So Linne, I thank you for sending your Canadian snow down to us here. ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m happy if you keep the cold weather though. Truly! ๐Ÿ˜€ And yes, I AM happy about the rain. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m hoping the rain will have worked its magic on our soil though. Hard baked and terribly dry clay is a right pain in which to dig holes. It’s horrid if it’s too wet but there hasn’t been a biblical flooding downpour so here’s hoping it’s enough to make light work of the post holes that I plan to dig. I also plan to borrow the post hole digger of a friend if it is available. IF my kids ever get ready that is!

Well, as I was saying, time off from the kids when one is a stay at home parent is, in my humble opinion, a base necessity. Without that time to stop, regroup your scattered thoughts and actually act like an adult with a brain who can hold down an uninterrupted conversation is of vital importance to dwindling supplies of sanity. I hadn’t had the opportunity for a day off in quite some time. Sure, 20 minutes here to run to the farmers market or an hour there to the op shop but not a large piece of time designated specifically to being a grown up.

Well, finally my chance came. It was carefully planned as part of an evolving plan to have cake and eat it too. And it started by realising that David Holmgren was opening up Melliodora, his one hectare (2.5 acre) property in Hepburn which is a little over 30 minutes drive from Ballan. David is one of the fathers of Permaculture and Melliodora (I’m guessing its named after the eucalyptus melliodora – Yellow Box gum trees that areย indigenousย to the area) is a living and working example of what permaculture is and living it. ๐Ÿ™‚

A sticker I saw on the wall of the loo in the cafe where we had lunch. It's so very true!

A sticker I saw on the wall of the loo in the cafe where we had lunch. It’s so very true!

David offered 2 tours of Melliodora, one of his passive solar, off grid house that he built on the property and the other of the extensive gardens and permaculture systems in place. I opted for the garden tour. As much as I would simply adore to view his house and its clever designs (another time) I also felt it wasn’t really fair to leave Martin with 3 kids all day and also I figured that we would be able to use the ideas of his garden more than the house at this stage in our permaculture journey. Relevance to place and time. ๐Ÿ™‚ So I signed up, with Lynda from Living in the Land of Oz fame for the afternoon tour.

This is corn stripped of its leaves and left for broad bean support. These stalks are well over 2m tall! Talk about fertile soil!

This is corn stripped of its leaves and left for broad bean support. These stalks are well over 2m tall! Talk about fertile soil!

David’s property is amazing. I can’t state that enough. His corn, of which only the stems remained, were well over 2 metres tall. His pumpkin patch, heavily hit with frost (it is the end of the season and we have had 2 heavy frosts in the area now) had been prolific as evidenced by the large pumpkins drying on benches and still in the garden. The tomatoes appear to have fruited well, the raspberries were very very tempting to pick and eat as I meandered past (I restrained myself with difficulty ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and it was lovely to see, that even among the seasons end plants that were not at their best, the broad beans were sprouting in between and new life was coming up in preparation for the winter crops.

Kiwi fruit ripening. I had heard of their incredible production capabilities but this surpassed my expectations.

Kiwi fruit ripening. I had heard of their incredible production capabilities but this surpassed my expectations.

David hobbled around (he’s on crutches with a broken foot (I think)), from perching point to perching point, speaking clearly and eloquently on all that they have done, covering topics of different soils and the health and uses for both, trees planted and existing from purchase (they have the most massive of massive pear trees thought to be around 150 or more years old), mulching, water channeling and catching, companion planting, “weeds” (clearly a passion of his) and of all the work they have done on their property as well as local catchments, roads and more.

Stick mulching to deter the chooks from scratching up and exposing and damaging the tree roots.

Stick mulching to deter the chooks from scratching up and exposing and damaging the tree roots.

My brain simply stopped working after about 2 hours of listening to him speak. The magnificent information and sheer quantity of it was too much for mummy-brained me but of what I have heard and actually absorbed there is enough there to keep me going for an age! I am still trying to process everything I heard and saw. It’s an awesome place to be!

David leading the way int he straw hat. This is one of his pear trees (not the 150 year old one) under the netting.

David leading the way int he straw hat. This is one of his pear trees (not the 150 year old one) under the netting.

This is David’s message for World Permaculture Day 2013.

David is an inspiring speaker. He’s surprisingly low key in some ways yet was incredibly detailed with what he shared. He didn’t motivate in me the burning fire to send me frantically out into the garden, tearing up the sods with my teeth but he’s had me calmly motivated, strengthened in resolve and motivation if you like, digging compost this morning into our first garden bed out front. I’m dusty and dirty and it feels good. ๐Ÿ™‚

I LOVE the organic shape of David's "studio". Beautiful!

I LOVE the organic shape of David’s “studio”. Beautiful!

IMG_5880

What a view! This is the large water catchment area looking back up the hill from the studio. There was a little jetty but I'm unsure if they've stocked it with fish or not. Still, there are yabbies in there and frogs. :)

What a view! This is the large water catchment area looking back up the hill from the studio. There was a little jetty but I’m unsure if they’ve stocked it with fish or not. Still, there are yabbies in there and frogs. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Our morning has not eventuated as planned (do they ever?) as the kids took so long mucking around getting dressed that Orik fell asleep so into his cot he’s gone and our outing is postponed. Jas, Egga and I all had a go post hole digging in soil that wasn’t much (if any) softened by the rain but I am hoping to pick up the digger tomorrow. We spent the rest of our time digging up the trial hugelkultur bed I built back inย early Februaryย and it was exciting to see that despite the fact it has rained very very little since it was built, some of the bottom logs were damp, harbouring insects (slaters and centipedes) and doing what hugelkultur beds should do. There was also a little bit of that white wood rotting fungus too. ๐Ÿ˜€ ย It needed moving though as it was part of the original garden plan which has changed somewhat of late ๐Ÿ˜‰ and is in the way now. The materials will be fully used in the new bed though and hopefully pass on their fungi and all that goodness to the rest of the logs in quick fashion.

Today is shaping up to be a good day (yes, it’s morning now). I’m hoping to be able to get the compost onto the bed. A legume crop sown for green manure purposes should help fix further nitrogen in there and then chopped in for mulch and green manure in the early spring, ready for it’s potato crop in late October, early November. Spuds and plants like pumpkins, zucchini and their relatives are great first crops for hugelkultur beds as they are low nitrogen requiring crops and hugelkultur beds can be low in nitrogen for the first few years. Legumes are also great as they draw nitrogen from the atmosphere, use what they need and fix the rest to their roots in small nodules (nitrogen fixing) which is left in the soil when you chop them down for mulch (before or after harvest). I think a crop of peas behind the spuds might work well too. ๐Ÿ™‚

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13 thoughts on “World Permaculture day, David Holmgren and Melliodora and a day off from the kids

  1. Linne says:

    You are welcome for the rain! Although we could use some ourselves now (but not if it’s hard and white!) It was over 30C yesterday and supposed to be that again today; I am very grateful that we topped out at a much more manageable 14C ๐Ÿ˜‰ The apartments can be hot enough even at that temp. I’ve been sneaking the sliding doors open early to try and get rid of the heat indoors early on; if I’m lucky, the doors stay open most of the day; other days, they are nearly closed. This makes me feel comatose . . . but it’s still better than that white stuff (I’ve forgotten what you call it ) ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Rabid, this was a fascinating post. I’m planning to read up on Hugelkultur soon; sounds like just my thing! Wish I could have joined you on the tour, too!! By the time I get down there in person, you can give me a tour of your place instead . . .

    If you are still thinking of goats (and maybe even if you’re not), alfalfa can be a great nitrogen-fixing crop and goats fed alfalfa hay produce a wonderful, sweet milk. Of course, you can use the seeds for sprouting and the hay for chook bedding, too; that last can then go into the compost . . . but you’ve likely thought of all this already.

    • Yes, it’s on my list of something to grow but we call it lucerne down here. Took me a while to figure that out. ๐Ÿ™‚ We have an area of driveway I’m thinking might work to plow and turn into a lucerne patch. It’s not overly big but it can be a permanent “field” of the stuff and no issues with those 15m roots either! We can then harvest all the above, for goats, chooks, mulch and more ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. LyndaD says:

    I bet you are waiting for my post on the tour. I have over 2 hrs of recorded David and i think im procrastinating because i dont have that time amount of time spare. I thought you would beat me to it. Well done. Yes it was a good and informative afternoon. You didnt mention our yummy soup – OK you left the food talk up to me… I would love to be a fly hanging around when they put those nets on. How on earth do they do that. Its hard enough keeping it untangled on small beds.

    • I’m envisioning some form of orange gun firing the net over. Seriously, there is no other possible way shy of a helicopter drop! Imagine them trying to net that 150 year old giant though! Instead keeping it as a decoy is just clever.
      Yes, that soup was divine but trying to cram everything we experienced in that maybe 3 and a half-4 hours into a post that isn’t 10,000 words or more… I struggled to absorb everything he said and keep it balanced with everything I saw. It was more than just a little overwhelming and wonderful hey. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. narf77 says:

    I am jealous of your rain. For some reason, we seem to have bypassed the rain and gone straight into arctic winter! We have been holed up inside studying for the queen thanks to our bolshie lecturer not getting his act together earlier and dumping 2 weeks worth of studies on our heads and expecting them all to be in yesterday…sigh…lucky its too dry to dig holes here or I would be twitching too much to learn anything. We NEED to get that enclosed veggie garden built! Sounds like you girls had an excellent day learning all about permaculture. Again, I am jealouse (more for the chance of a “day off” than the info if I am being honest! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) We are off to a progressive garage sale and then I am going to have to get rid of about 400+ RSS Blog posts that I just haven’t been able to get to thanks to our busy-ness…sigh…oh well, another day, another chance to get “into it!” A friend gave us half a kilo of local purple garlic cloves to plant out so I now have the incentive to get into our veggie garden, pull out “summer” and get planting winter and food futures. Hopefully I will get time to post soon and we can get back out into the garden where we so desperately belong! Have a great weekend with Martin and the hoppers ๐Ÿ™‚

    • The rain was a bit of a laugh really. Enough to wet the washing and not a drop more. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
      Martin is hoping to get Trevor the tractor working today so he can haul some compost out the back whilst I drop the kids off at a friends place (they’re minding them overnight as a wedding anniversary gift) so we can get our garlic in too.
      Sunday was a much needed day off I tell you and I’m hard pressed to decide which I enjoyed more – time off with a friend including a hot lunch, uninterrupted conversation and no nappies to deal with or the tour of David’s property. BOTH were amazing. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Good luck with your garden beds today and may the day bring enough warmth to work comfortably (22 here again today – 3rd day in a row) but cool enough to enjoy Brunhilda tonight. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Louise says:

    Hi, Interesting site, I have 300 vacola bottles that I no longer require. I was wondering if you knew anyone could use them.. I live in Qld and we dont have the abundance of fruit suitable for canning. Let me know what you think
    thanks

    • Where in Queensland do you live Louise? I know a few people around the state but I also know what a huge state it is (not that I’ve been privileged to see very much of it).
      You could always look to selling them on eBay too. I source most of mine through a seller in Ballarat but they can be wrapped and posted.

  5. […] hugelkultur beds. David Holmgren has, at his property Melliodora in Hepburn Springs (you can read here about the day Lynda and I went on a Melliodora tour), hundreds, if not thousands of comfrey, all […]

  6. […] David Holmgren on the tour I attended at his house Melliodora said that each year he ends up with a different plant becoming a weed in his garden. Last year it was carrots! Some had obviously escaped being pulled up, had over-wintered and then shot up to go to seed. Can’t complain about that hey. […]

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

  8. […] Here are some of the testimonials. Jane Neville Quince, Apple, Pear and Potato Tatyana Temirbulatova (PermaculturedDavid Holmgrenโ€™s House Tour Permaculture ParrMelliodora Garden Tour Erin Marteal (Permaculture in Public Gardens)Melliodora Permaculture Farm with David Holmgren Greg Foyster (Simple Lives)At home with David Holmgren Jessie(the Rabid Little Hippy)World Permaculture day, David Holmgren and Melliodora and a day off from the kids […]

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