Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Permaculture in Action


The sun was out in force today. I got a look at the majestic Mt Fuji to the east of the farm for the first time. Still covered in snow, it looks so beautiful.

Waka san and I went to his sisters dairy farm to collect cow shit (manure) also. The cows are all kept indoors and their shit is cleaned out and stockpiled to rot down in time naturally.

When Waka san turned the pile with the loader, it was very alive with life. Lots of worms and bugs. This is a great resource to have so close and it is free.We will take eggs and produce to the sister in exchange for the shit. We also can get bales of straw from her. The ones that are old and wet the cows won’t eat it and they can get sick if they eat the rotting material.

We were planting potatoes today. Waka san had prepared the beds and was putting out the seed potatoes when I noticed the row spacing’s. We all had a discussion on how things are usually done and I offered some advice to utilize less space.

Waka was using 4 rows of space for one row of crop. I redesigned the bed spacing’s so we used two rows wide of crop and one row wide of path. We put extra shit into the required rows for planting to aid in the growth of the plants. We have 3 wwoofers on the farm at the moment, so it makes light work of getting a lot done.


We will mound as per the normal way but will use straw also to cover the plants as they are growing. This will add organic matter to the soil as the plants are growing and is less laborious as apposed to digging. The potatoes will be cleaner also saving labor on cleaning.

I had found yarrow growing in a part of the farm so we transplanted some at the ends of the garden beds to act as companions to the potatoes. Yarrow is also a good compost activator and it will be closer now to the compost making area.


These three ladies were wwoofing from Thailand and did a wonderful job helping out. Hopefully their experiences will have taught them something about sustainable living.


Well it has been about 5 weeks since all the above action happened.Since then we have had other wwoofers in and they have helped with mulching the potatoes and planting other veges as well as a ton of weeding.The potatoes have been mulched in a way that it is mounded rather than using soil.Sort of like a volcano then inside filled with compost.

We planted a heap of lettuce and companioned it with radish,beans,carrot,dill and cucumber growing up a teepee. We have also direct sowed spinach and companioned them with spring onion.Corn has just been introduce along with lettuce and chamomile and zucchini.Beans will be seeded in a few weeks as the corn takes off.

The yarrow is really taking off at the end of the beds and the potatoes seem to like it being there.We have also planted another two rows of two different types of potatoes to have a good supply after the first batch have been harvested.More corn is waiting to also be planted.We will wait two weeks before continual plantings.
Progress is being made and all the crops are doing well.The potatoes have been continually heaped up with straw and got a good fertilize with compost recently.As of today(13/06/08)the potatoes are flowering and look so beautiful and healthy.I have been making fertilizer for dynamic accumulating weeds from the garden and the first batch was 100kg of comfrey into 1000 liters of water.It took about two week to break down and I am expecting the nitrogen to be released to the plant more readily than normal composting.

The paths have been doing a great job harvesting water when it rains.I trimmed them up a little to make them more level and they look great.I have said previously about the yarrow at the ends of the paths and how well they are working.Now after a few more weeks have passed,they look fantastic and are starting to flower.Not much sign of pest insects yet but I am keeping a watchful eye.I have the charcoal spray at hand.

We have also been making garlic spray as well as soap spray.Some others Wakasan has used in the past are coffee and milk sprays.I have done some research also and found that animal urine is good for deterring pests.I can't seem to catch the sheep when she is having a piss or keep up with her,so I am trying human urine.

Another thing I am trying is 'potato towers' using old car tires.It is another way to demonstrate growing potatoes and also recycling in Permaculture.The tires should produce more potatoes that the conventional method as the stem of the plant is continually covered promoting root growth from it.It is a means of growing vertically by stacking the tires.We will use less growing surface area for hopefully a higher yield.No pun intended.
The second batch of corn went in yesterday and was in-filled with lettuce as we have so much of it and the corn will do a good job of shading it as the weather is getting hotter.In the first bed of corn I have planted chamomile,parsley,lettuce and zucchini.The lettuce has been planted on the shadier side of the corn,while the zucchini is on the sunnier side.The chamomile in the middle.I am waiting a while longer till I plant beans.
As I am always looking to recycle anything I find and resourcing is my hobby, I saw an opportunity to salvage some timber from a tractor/machinery repair place.This garden above gets a real hammering from the sth and nth winds on a regular basis.I had noticed the timber every time I passed by that business and kept on thinking of ways to use it rather than just picking it up and just keeping it for a rainy day

The most viable and easy way that would serve both the wind and the recycle issue was to use the timber for a wind break.Because we are growing corn in this garden I want to protect it as much as possible.The timber is positioned in a way that the sth wind will hit it and be slowed down and then deflected around to the left where it meets a smaller panel and so forth.I am searching for more timber for the nth side to complete the design.I still have a while as the corn is still young.I think it looks great and we will also use it as a vertical growing space for peas and beans and anything else I can fit into the space.The fence will also act as an accumulator of resources at its base.Any leaves or straw will build up there and act as a mulch,saving us work.

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