Posts from the ‘Gardening’ category

Deep Litter Composting With Animals

When keeping animals in domestic yards you need to avoid having bare earth, instead you can have a deep litter.

A what?

A deep litter imitates a forest floor which is soft and spongy – made up of deep layers of carbon and nitrogen (fresh and old leaves, sticks, branches, dead animals, rainfall etc). Some folks refer to it as a slow, composting system as the end product can be cycled back into your edible landscapes. Without a deep litter your animals end up living on bare earth which becomes problematic with the build up of their manure. Without any carbon materials (straw, woodchips, hay, mulchy stuff) to absorb and balance out the manure, the whole yard becomes stinky and gross which can compromise the health of the animals. Not cool.

In our home we have a deep litter system for our chook and goat yard – they share this space with the chooks who also access a nearby forage space through a little passage way.

Around two times a year we dig out the run and replace it with fresh woodchips. In between these times I’ll often add a thin layer of woodchips as a little top up – especially during winter when it’s very damp. By the time it’s ready to be dug out it’s already half composted material (see below). It’s beautiful, doesn’t smell gross and is well on its way to becoming invaluable compost for our food systems.

Half composted woodchips, mixed with goat/chook manure and rainfall. 

When we dig it out, the first place we put it is into some compost bays where it’ll sit for quite a few months to finish the composting process. While the finished product will look like stunningly beautiful compost, we learned the hard way that the carbon content is still very high so you’ll most likely still need to add some nitrogen into it so it doesn’t compromise your food crops. Our sad story is that we added some mature compost onto our annual garden beds and then watched in horror as our crops had a major attack of “nitrogen draw down”. This simply means their isn’t enough nitrogen to support healthy plant growth. It was easy to fix (by adding blood and bone), but we lost some time in our precious summer growing season. Won’t be doing that again!

Compost station with THE view

Hot tip

I use large, coarse woodchips as they last longer which means I don’t have to dig out the yard as often. You can source woodchips from your local arborist for free or cheap, so it’s worth calling around. Just make sure you check what trees they’ve mulched so you don’t accidentally import lots of weedy seeds.

The finished product is highly satisfying for everyone. And for those who are wondering, no the goats don’t eat the woodchips. They definitely have a little nibble but spit them straight back out.

Also, I couldn’t get them to pose for this photo below as Jilly (the black one) is on heat and can’t stand still (or be quiet) and Gerty was trying to get a cuddle from me. I love them.

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How To Use Eggshells In Your Compost & Chook Systems

When you have chooks, you have lots of eggshells which can become super annoying in the compost bin or worm farm as they JUST SIT THERE FOREVER. Like I said, super annoying.

They’re also a rad source of slow release calcium which is beneficial for your compost systems, soil and chickens if you can feed it back to them in a fine enough form. Which we do.

My most recent story with Gardening Australia shows you how we do it – you can watch the whole thing below.

But in summary…

  • Collect your eggshells until you have a good stash.
  • Roast them in the oven at 180 degrees for 10 minutes. Roasting them helps them become extremely brittle – perfect for the next step….
  • Pop them in a large bowl and use a glass jar to smash them up. Think of it as a giant mortar and pestle. You can end up with a pretty fine substance after a few minutes of smashing.
  • Then you can either pop them in your compost bin, worm farm or mix it in with your chook’s food.

So quick, so simple! You’re welcome :-).

Very rad photos by Nat Mendham xx

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Portable Chicken Tractors

As our property is so steep, integrating animals into our food gardens hasn’t been able to happen as much as the permaculture text books imply it should. For example if I put our chickens into our orchard, they’d scratch all the mulch and top soil down to the bottom of the hill – and I would cry. It just wouldn’t work here. So we have some work arounds including using a chicken tractor to move chooks through out veggie patch strategically.

Chicken tractors are a useful tool to integrate chickens into your veggie garden in a controlled way where they don’t trash all your crops. We made a recent one out of scraps lying behind our shed. While it’s not going to win any prizes for craftsmanship or beauty, it does the job :-).

This past season, we’ve been using the chook tractor to help raise up some chicks we hatched. 

When do you put them in your garden?

The best time to activate the chook tractor in your garden is in between crops. So when one of our crops has been harvested but still has lots of green mater available, we pop the chook tractor on it and the chooks scratch, eat and peck it apart – until it’s blended back into nice looking mulchy soil. They also drop their manure which helps “feed: the soil. For those folks freaking out about fresh chook poo on the garden (usually not recommended as it’s very strong), a little bit is ok, so you can remain calm :-).

Popular chook tractor designs

Look, there’s heeeaaaps of chook tractor variations, such as did you know you can use an old trampoline and a-frame swing set as structures? Below are a couple outlined in more detail which I think are easy to build and are also portable.

The a-frame

One of the easier ones to build, the one you can see below is from an older rental house we lived in while in naarm/Melbourne. This version is built to be on either fresh grass or the veggie garden you can see behind it. Importantly it’s a light weight version and the chooks were put back into their main run and house each evening (which was also fox-proof). But during the day a couple could have a go at being in the tractor as needed.

The chook dome

The chook dome is designed to fit circular beds and popularised by permaculture author Linda Woodrow in her book ‘The Permaculture Home Garden’. It’s good for people with more flat land and interested in the mandala garden framework.

From DMK Permaculture

Purple Pear Farm mandala garden with chook dome peaking out in the corner. 

Key design considerations

While there are many design variations on the chicken tractor the portable versions all share some common design elements. Mainly…

  • They’re nice and light (or have wheels and handles) so one-two people can move them easily.
  • They’re made to fit the size of your veggie beds (or rows) so they’re 100% efficient and compact moving through the food garden. Sure you can just shuffle them around a grassy area, but it’s a wasted opportunity to integrate them into a food-producing system.
  • They all have a weather-proof shelter so the chooks can be protected from rain, the hot sun or predator birds which might want to come and get them.
  • There’s also a small roost for them to jump up and hang out/sleep on – imitate a tree’s branch (chooks are originally jungle birds).

Are they fox proof?

Usually no. We don’t have foxes in lutruwita/Tasmania or other predators in nipaluna/Hobart where I live, so we can be more relaxed about the design.

Do the chooks live there permanently?

Definitely not. They’re not big enough to keep chickens happy all the time. The exception is if you only a have a few in a large’ish tractor and you’re moving them daily (to fresh ground) and checking on them multiple times to make sure they’re happy. But generally the idea is that they’re visitors that come and go – returning to a larger, main yard where they can stretch their legs as desired. If for some reason they can’t be moved daily I make sure I dump lots of greens in there twice a day for them to eat and scratch up – you might also need to pop some straw/carbon in there as well to soak up their manure and make sure they have a healthy surface to be on.

Our chook tractor with a fresh load of comfrey leaves in there for them to eat

The main aim of the game is to build soil health in your food gardens and show the chooks a good time with fresh greens and grubs to eat. Done well, it’s a wonderful, symbiotic system where everyone wins.

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How To “Un-Cluck” Your Clucky Chook

Each year in or around spring, between 1-6 of our chooks will get clucky. This simply means they’ll stay in the nesting box sitting on any available eggs and try to hatch them. A futile activity at our place as we have no rooster. The reason why this is problematic comes down to two things:

  1. Once they go clucky they’ll stop laying eggs. This is the key reason we have chooks, so it’s not ideal when lots of them are on the cluck.
  2. Their clucky energy and presence in the nesting box freaks out the other chooks (who aren’t clucky) who can then also stop laying eggs. Meaning we’ve gone from having 8 eggs a day to 2. And the two eggs that are laid are laid in strange and hard to get to places every day (like under the goat’s milking stand) because they’re busy avoiding the clucky hen in the nesting box.

The two main ways to break the clucky cycle are to:

(a) Place some fertile eggs beneath them and wait for a few weeks for them to hatch. They’ll then fulfil their parenting dreams and the cycle will be broken. We’ve done this with one of our clucky hens and currently have six fluff balls running around with their mumma. But there’s only so many baby chicks you need.

The other way is…

(b) Manually break their clucky-ness by isolating them in a safe, yet less comfortable space to inspire them abandon the nest. This is how we do it.

Remove them from the main nesting box and house so the other chooks can reclaim that space and remember how to lay eggs again. We moved ours to a seperate space within our goat shed where she want be disturbed (by goats). This area is completely weather and predator proof.

We use a recycled milk crate to contain her on a timber pallet shelf (weighted down with rocks and tied with some twine so she can’t push it over) with lots of airflow and no straw to nest on. You don’t want to give them a cosy bed to keep nesting on as they’ll just happily keep being clucky.

The timber shelf allows maximum airflow

We also make sure there’s easy access to food and water – the milk crates are handy as they have large holes she can poke her head through for this.

Then we leave her there for 2 – 3 days, checking on her regularly morning and night. When you do release her watch to see what happens – if she heads straight back to the main nesting box, then she’s not ready – give her another 24 hours. But if she starts wondering around and re-integrating with the rest of the flock, then the cycle has been broken.

Some folks say this is a bit rough, and I hear you. But what’s even rougher is having all your chooks go clucky, not getting any eggs and then having to buy in eggs from elsewhere with potentially unknown animal-handling practices which may be extremely unethical and sad. I’d much prefer to be able to manage the clucky cycle as outlined above and know where my animals products are coming from – and that they’re being cared for ethically.

This relatively quick process will see your chooks back in the saddle of egg laying and not freaking each other out with strange clucky vibes :-).

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2021 Home Harvest – Host Callout!

We’re happy to announce we’re working with Eat Well Tasmania and Sustainable Living Tasmania to hold our second annual “Home Harvest” garden tour in the Hobart municipality!  Special thanks to the City of Hobart for funding this great initiative.

Home Harvest is going to be a one day event on Saturday March 6th, 2021 in the Hobart municipality where productive gardens open their gates to invite the public in to have a look – best day ever right?! The main aim is that people are inspired to start (or continue) to grow their own food to increase local resilience and for all round general health and wellbeing.

Right now we’re doing a big callout to find more productive gardens in the Hobart municipality who’d like to be included. For more information, read on below…

Click here to register your garden here and we’ll be in touch shortly. Please note, applications close on January 31st.

Host Information

To be a host you need these things:

  • A productive garden! This can be tiny, small, large or massive – there are no limitations on scale and we aim to show a large range of diverse gardens of all shapes and sizes. A productive garden can include vegetables beds, orchards, animals, compost systems – or it might be a balcony garden with one herb garden. We want them all!
  • To be in the Hobart municipality. As this project is funded by the City of Hobart this is non-negotiable.
  • Up for a chat – they’ll be a lot of questions on the day and you’ll be required to show people around and explain what’s happening in your patch.
  • Available on March 6th for a set amount of hours. The hours you open your gate are negotiable and will be clearly promoted so people only come in this time.
  • Passionate about growing food in urban spaces!
  • You can be a private garden or a community space and we wholeheartedly welcome people who are renting.
  • Your garden should be a real, productive garden – it does not have to be picture-perfect. Visitors want to learn and get inspired, and if you meet all the above criteria, your garden will be perfect as it is.

Keen? click here to sign up today!

What support do you receive to do this?

  • There is a small fee to reimburse you for your time of $100.
  • We will provide you with a “Home Harvest” host sign that can be attached to your fence/gate so people know you are part of the tour and can easily find you.
  • Good Life Permaculture will organise all bookings in consultation with you so you can control how many people come and when.
  • Prior to the day we’ll drop off some free gardening resources you can hand out to visitors to help them get growing and composting.
  • Staying COVID safe: We take our communities health and wellbeing very seriously. We will drop off covid-safe information posters, visitor tracking sheets and hand sanitiser. You will need to tell us your maximum number of visitors at any given time (1 person per 2sqm is the current guideline, but you can certainly make it less).

Privacy

We respect your privacy and won’t publish your home address on our website. Instead, we’ll provide a brief profile of each garden on our website and a general location in Hobart (i.e. suburb). Once people book in to your garden, we’ll provide only those people with your address details in a private email.

Is Home Harvest free for folks?

Yes, for people wanting to come along on the day there’s no charge at all.

Click here to register your garden here and we’ll be in touch shortly. Please note, applications close on January 31st.

Home Harvest is a partnership project between Good Life Permaculture, Eat Well Tasmania, supported by Sustainable Living Tasmania and funded by the City of Hobart.

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How To Cook & Preserve Globe Artichokes

Globe artichokes (Cynara scolymus) are part of the thistle family – so in the right climate, they grow like weeds. Beautiful, delicious (non-invasive) weeds.

We’ve planted a lot of them amongst our edible forest garden as a stunning (and tasty) perennial. When it comes to eating them, it can initially be a tad confusing about how to cook or preserve them. When I first started trying to eat these plants, I remember boiling them for far too long and then kind of just mauling them – and being super disappointed and baffled – but friends, times have changed. Here’s how we most commonly eat and preserve them – I hope it helps you avoid the baffled mauling I initially did!

How to eat them…

  • We harvest the flower buds when they’re young – before their petals have opened, or are only just slightly open.
  • We either boil or steam them in a big pot of water and cook them until you can easily stick a fork or butter knife through them.
  • We then serve them up like that with a side bowl dipping sauce – I like to use olive oil and lemon juice (there’s many variations to this dipping sauce).
  • Simply peel the petals one by one, dip them into the sauce and using your teeth, scrap the fleshy bit of the petal off.
  • Eventually you get to the squishy heart – which you can can whole.
  • You end up with a big bowl of half eaten petals (you can’t eat the tough bit) which you can then compost.

But there’s only so many artichokes you can eat, which is where preserving comes in handy.

How to preserve them…

  • Harvest the buds while young (as described above) and bring them into your kitchen.
  • Top and tail them and seen below.

Top and tail the artichokes.

Then remove the outer (tougher) petals as these won’t soften and are mostly not edible.

I then chop them in half as this is the size I like to eat them in once they’re preserved. It’s also helpful to make all the pieces a similar size so they cook at the same rate.

For some of the larger flower buds they may have developed a spiky fur inside. The younger buds can have a softer (non offensive) version of this which you can see forming above (edible and delicious – don’t worry about it).

But for the older buds – you want to get rid of all the spiky stuff you can see below…

I use a spoon and scoop it out. See before photo above and after photo below.

The same heart can be seen below – just chopped in half ready to be cooked. You can see the spiky fur stuff I’ve scooped out to the right – compost it.

Hot tip

If you’re preserving LOTS of artichokes, have a bowl of water and vinegar (or lemon juice) you can soak them in while they wait for you to be ready to cook them. This will stop them from going a yucky brown colour.

Once you’re ready, pop them in a pot with water and a steamer and cook until their soft enough for a fork to go through them easily.

The vinegar bit…

While they’re cooking, it’s time to make a vinegar solution which is what will actually preserve them on the shelf. You’ll need:

  • Apple cider vinegar – enough to fill the jars you’re planning on stuffing with artichokes.
  • Rosemary (to taste)
  • Garlic (to taste)
  • Bay leaves (to taste)
  • Peppercorns (to taste)

Mix them all into a pot, bring to the boil and then let it simmer while the artichokes are cooking.

Once the artichokes have finished

Pop them straight into sterilised glass jars and pour the vinegar solution over them so every bit is covered. Either screw the lid of the jar on, or use a fowler vacola lid system* and store on the shelf until your’e ready to eat. I recommend leaving them for at least a week so they have good flavour.

One more thing. I get a lot of people saying to me – why do you even bother doing this? You only get such a little product from a huge plant – isn’t this wasteful?? True. Like many delicious food things, it takes effort, time and the actual globe artichoke heart is approximately 1% of the plant that you grow. I grow/eat/preserve them because they’re so prolific in their growth (remember they’re related to thistles) and so abundant in their yields that it makes it very worth while. Also it’s just so yum!

*This isn’t compulsory, we just happen to have lots of these jars so are using them. 

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DIY Duck Feeder & Watering System

At the beginning of the Covid lockdown for Tasmania this year, we scrambled for home projects for our little 5 year old Frida while her kindy was shut and landed on a few things including hatching Indian Runner duck eggs which we had been thinking of re-introducing into our garden for a while.

We sourced 12 eggs from a friend, made an incubator to keep them warm for 28 days and waited. Out of the 12 only 2 turned out to be fertile (that happens sometimes). Both hatched and we met Star Bright Shimmer and his very weak sibling Marison (named by Frida of course). Marison was born with only one working leg and was lack lustre from day dot. And yet we adored her, she lived for 2 months before dying (this happens sometimes). We buried her in our garden and planted flowers on top – Frida is beautifully attentive to these plants and sometimes I catch her singing to Marison at her grave. So much unexpected learning and conversations about life, death and love when we just thought we were hatching ducklings.

Star Bright Shimmer – the most beautiful.

While this was all happening Star Bright Shimmer imprinted himself onto Frida which means he legitimately thinks Frida’s his mum and will follow her anywhere. And while he now strictly only lives outside, there was a while there where Star Bright was an inside duck and the bathroom sink his personal bath. Sounds sweet, but the smell, the mess – so much poo!

We sourced Star Bright two girl ducks for company from a farm – Dandy and Daisy, we have no idea who is who but we’re ok with that. As we didn’t hand raise them they are completely uninterested in us, except when we feed them. Star Bright continues to be Frida’s true love and will clamber all over us at every opportunity.

We keep our ducks fenced in our young olive orchard as they’re enormously destructive to annual gardens. Between their bills snuffling under little plants, copious amounts of poo being splashed around and their big flat feet they can demolish whole annual crops and compact the soil while they’re at it. But in an orchard or established food forest, they’re perfect.

Ducks are messy creatures. They specifically like to poo in water – we have a bath pond for them which we empty as needed and drain onto a nearby food forest. You can see a much older blog about that system here.  

The feeding & watering system

I’ve struggled to find an effective water and feeding system for them that I can build easily myself. But recently found this DIY bucket system which contains all the food and water and stops them from walking and pooing in it all.

All you need is two 20 Litre buckets, I sourced mine from a local wholefoods shop for free once they’ve finished with them – ask your local cafe or bakery if they have any spare.

Using a jigsaw, I cut three holes into the sides of the bucket – one for each of my three ducks. The holes are approximately 20cm from the ground height, ensuring the ducks can reach in and touch the bottom of the bucket with their bills.

I then fill one with water and the other with pellets for them to eat.

Importantly, you should still expect the water to be very dirty at the end of the day. This is because ducks use water to keep their eyes and bills clean. As they’re constantly foraging beneath mulch and soil all day for slugs and grubs, they keep clean by frequently dunking their head in water. So there’ll be a fair bit of dirt in the water still – nothing to worry about.

So far -this is the best and easiest DIY method I’ve found for ducks. I can move the buckets around easily preventing one patch of earth becoming an absolute compacted mess, they prevent duck food being wasted and keep all poo out. All is well in duck universe :-).

More duck resources

 

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Four Ways To Manage Codling Moth – Naturally!

Last year we had a small amount of codling moth (Laspeyresia (Cydia) pomonella) on our young apples for the first time. Bummer. There were tears.

Unfortunately even if your trees are healthy, if there’s any codling moth in the immediate neighbourhood it’s only a matter of time before they find their ways to your apple trees. This season I’m ready and have just applied the methods below to managing coddling moth. Here they are.

But first: Their lifecycle

Understanding their lifecycle will help you manage them…

  • First, tiny eggs are laid on leaves after dusk, this starts to happen once night time temperatures reach 15 degrees or higher.
  • Eggs hatch after around 10 days, they feed on leaves then eventually move into fruit where they’ll chew their way into the core and eat for 3 – 5 weeks.
  • Once they’re full, they leave the fruit and move down the trunk, looking for a loose crevice to make a cocoon. This is usually under loose bark or in the ground directly near the base of the trunk.
  • It’ll then metamorphosis into an adult moth which will then flies at night to mate and repeat the cycle.

In cooler areas the moth will have two productive cycles each season, while it warmer areas they’ll have three. So you have to manage the moth throughout the whole season to catch them in these cycles.

1. Trunk Trap

Wrap hessian cloth or corrugated cardboard around the base of the trunk to trap any caterpillars looking for a place to pupate. They love hanging out in those cardboard corrugations – inspect every three weeks to see if there are any cocooned caterpillars and destroy them. Then replace with a new collar.

2. Pheromone Trap

There are a range of pheromone traps you can use for codling moth. A pheromone is a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species, in this case it mimics a “mating smell” (not the technical term) and attracts the codling moth directly to it.

This is the one my local nursery happened to have. How does it work? The codling moth are attracted by the manufactured pheromone lure, they enter the trap and are caught on the non drying glue inside the trap. The glue insert can later be removed for inspection and replacement.

Above: The pheromone trap with the little lure in the middle -which comes in the below packet below. The lure sits on sticky non-drying glue which traps the codling moth. 

The only challenging thing with the pheromone trap is the price. These kits range from $30 – $50,  so not an option for everyone, and honestly our trees are too young to even produce that amount of fruit. I just panicked bought it when I didn’t think there was another options…

But then I researched some DIY methods which, while quite different to the above (not pheromone based), can still trap codling moth. Like this one from Utah State University Extension where you mix water, molasses and yeast together in a bucket. Apparently the codling moth is attracted to the smell, dives in, gets stuck, dies and your apples live happily ever after.

3. Beneficial plants that attract insects that eat codling moth

Include strategic plants in your orchard which attract beneficial insects that eat codling moth. These plants include clover, queen annes lace, dill and fennel.

These beneficial insects I’m referring to are the Trichogramma – a minute wasp, less than 0.5 mm long. The adult female lays her eggs *into* the codling moth eggs (wow). There are also a number of other number of wasps, night flying birds, tree frogs and small bats that can eat codling moth. So the more diverse plants you have integrated into your orchard, the better. You might be interested in checking out edible forest gardens to learn more.

White clover in flower

4. Horticultural glues

People also use a type of “horticultural glue” at the base of the trunk to prevent some of the female moths from crawling/fluttering up the trunk of the tree. It’ll also stop ants and other crawling insects you don’t want in your trees.

Put masking tape on the trunk first, then apply a very thin layer of the glue on top of that (with anything but your fingers – it’s real sticky). The codling moth get stuck on there as they try to walk up the trunk. You need to replace it every 2 – 3 months.

Importantly, you can’t use vaseline. Me being me, I researched all the DIY options. Vaseline popped up again and again as an alternative to commercial glues – so I tried it. But it doesn’t last more than a few days, at which point codling moths, caterpillars, ants etc will happily crawl over it. So don’t waste your time there. I bought a 500g tub of natural horticultural glue from nursery for around $13 – the tub will last for years and it will work .

EDIT: Also importantly – If you’re in Victoria Australia, the Agriculture Department specifies that all glue traps used for insect capture must have some time of barrier/cage/fence around them to prevent any animals coming into contact with them. This is in the spirit of animal welfare. You can read more about this on their website here. 

Horticultural glue on top of the masking tape. You’ll notice the trunk appears “shiny” – that’s remnant vaseline that I trialled (not the hort glue) – the vaseline will come off gradually. 

Be mindful that…

You have to do more than one method to ensure success. The one thing everyone I ask agrees on is that you HAVE to do more than one method if you want success in managing codling moth.

Other things to note

  • Never leave fruit on the ground – it’ll rot and provide food for the codling moth. Keep your orchard clean.
  • If possible, run your poultry through the orchard, they’ll eat any rotting fruit and any codling moth that happens to be in the top layers of the soil.
  • Sheet mulching around your trees can also help slow codling moth coming out of the ground as it create one extra barrier it has to break through.

Resources

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How To Treat Leaf Curl On Your Nectarine Tree

Leaf curl (Taphrina deformans ) is that horrifying-looking disease your stone fruit get where the leaves curl up and dye and your yields are drastically impacted. Leaf curl predominately affects peaches and nectarines, but can also hit apricots and almonds.

Leaf curl in action – yuck. 

We have a mixed orchard which includes some stone fruit – our nectarine tree is the only one with leaf curl…

Our winter orchard. For those of you who are interested, this particular row of trees has been pruned to a rough espalier “fan” shape to be more space efficient.

Where does it come from?

While it’ll start to show up in early spring it’s actually been living in your trees over winter, dormant – waiting for the seasonal rains to come and spread it into every little nook and cranny throughout the tree.  Effective treatment must begin when an affected tree loses its leaves in late autumn or early winter.

So what do you do?

A number of things, but two of the most important ones are:

  1. Before the tree buds swell spray it with lime sulphar. The lime lodges around unopened buds providing a temporary rainproof seal. Warning the lime sulphar smells like rotten eggs.
  2. When the buds are swelling (opening) usually in late winter/early spring, spray it again with Copper oxyxchloride  – this kills the fungal spores. If you’re a bit late to the spraying party and your tree’s buds are already swelling (so can’t do the lime spray), go straight to the copper spray – it’ll still worthwhile.

Be sure to spray on a still day (wind gets a bit chaotic and messy) and that it’s not about to rain (it’ll wash it away).

Both treatments mentioned above can be sourced from your local nursery – they’ll provide details on quantities to use.

Importantly, once leaf-tips appear, it’s too late to do the above treatments – timing is everything! I literally put these treatments in my diary a year in advance so I don’t forget – I recommend you do the same :-).

Lime sulphar mix ready to go

Make sure you drench the trees with the spray to ensure it gets into all those nooks and crannies.  

Other things you can do as well

For the best results in controlling leaf curl, use a number of control methods together. Complete elimination can be challenging, but the impact on the tree and fruit production can be minimised.

  • Clean up any fallen leaves from previous infections and dispose of in the bin to minimise hiding places for the fungus spore.
  • If a tree is already infected, remove all distorted leaves and fruit and destroy (bin or burn them).
  • Feed your soil with slow release organic fertilisers and soil conditioners, as well as regular watering regimes, to ensure it is healthy and can recover from infection.

A healthy tree = more fruit

If you don’t treat your trees than your yields will go way down and the fruit you do get will be small and deformed – and it’s likely you’ll cry. While the year of 2020 is throwing a hole lot of shite at us – lets not add leaf curl to the list. So if you’re privileged enough to have a fruit trees – have a crack at maximising what you can get from them.  Cause the more you have, the more you can share with your community :-).

More resources

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How To Grow Green Manures & A Better World For All

Green manure crops are used within a crop rotation cycle to re-nourish the soil in preparation for further annual crops. Our latest AND LAST Crisis Gardening video steps you through what green manure seeds you can grow for both cold and warm seasons and how to do it.

It also explores how we can grow a better world. Because as we still have months/years ahead of us in recovering from covid-19, now is the perfect time to ask ourselves

“what type of world do we want to re-emerge into?”

Instead of going back to business as usual- why not consider going forward and outgrowing the status quo? You can watch the whole video here and read about how to garden both of these things into existence below.

What are some of the common green manure crops?

Green manure for cold seasons

  • Broad beans (also known as faba or tik beans) (Vicia faba)
  • Mustard (Brassica nigra)
  • Peas (Pisum sativum)
  • Lupins (Lupinus)
  • Oat grass (Avena sativa)
  • Rye grass (Lolium rigidum)
  • Vetch (Vicia)
  • Annual crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum)

Green manure for warm seasons

  • Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)
  • Lablab (Lablab purpureus)
  • Soybeans (Glycine max)
  • Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata)
  • Millet (Panicum miliaceum)
  • Marigolds (Tagetes)

The benefits

Different green manure options will have different benefits for the soil, as  Sustainable Gardening Australia puts it below…

  • Biofumigants, like marigolds (Tagetes patula) planted in spring, brassicas (Brassica napus and Brassica campestris) and mustard, planted in autumn help to control root knot nematodes and root rot fungal pathogens. These crops must be dug in to release beneficial gases as they decompose.
  • Legumes, like lucerne, clover, beans and peas, which fix nitrogen and will make it available to whatever follows the green manure crop.
  • Weed smotherers include lablab, cowpea, lucerne and buckwheat.

How to plant them

  • We mix up a range of the above seeds in a bowl (usually a blend of mustard, peas and broad beans or lupins) and simply broadcast them across the soil.
  • We then rake them in, not overly worried if some are still exposed.
  • If needed, we water them in – if rain’s coming we let nature water them instead.

Then what?

We make sure they’re never allowed to flower, as once they do the plant starts to put all their energy into flowering/fruiting instead of into the soil. Remember we’re feeding the soil NOT ourselves. So we will slash them down a couple of times over the season to ensure they’re putting all their good stuff into the soil.

Once it’s time for the next crop to be planted, you can either:

  • Dig the plants into the soil (remove any excess green matter from the top of the plant first), slash/mow/sythe them to ground level and leaving the roots in the ground,
  • Plant your crops amongst them (knowing you might have to manage any re-growth) or,
  • You can slash them down, water it and then smother the garden bed with a non-toxic tarpaulin/silage tarp 4 – 6 weeks before you want to plant the next crop. This process encourages all the biology to the top soil level where they eat the whole plant – leaving no trace of it.

This last method is our preferred one as it means you don’t have to dig the soil at all (meaning you don’t disturb the soil food web) and all green manures have perfectly “disappeared” into the soil, with all the biology having eaten and cycled them back into the soil profiles. You can see how a variation of us doing this in our garden here. 

Photo from Longley Organic Farm

Where to source seeds

In Australia we recommend the follow – but check in with your local nursery to find local ones.

How to grow a better world

Green manures are the perfect way to feed, rest and activate your soil simultaneously. Which leads me to how to grow a better world. During these past 10+ weeks of covid-19 lock downs, people have been retreating, hibernating, watching, wondering, resting, feeding and activating their brains with new thinking – sewing new seeds for how we might move forward.

Some of these new “social seeds” we can all start or, continue sewing are listed below with links to impactful organisations and resources already working in these areas.

First Nations Justice

Organisations and resources to help you learn and support First Nations Australians.

  • Original Power – a community-focused organisation that aims to build the power of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through collective action.
  • Seed Mob –Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network, building a movement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people for climate justice with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
  • Amazing book – Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe – Reexamines colonial accounts of Aboriginal people in Australia, and cites evidence of pre-colonial agriculture, engineering and building construction by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Food Sovereignty

  • Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance –The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance is a farmer-led organisation made up of organisations and individuals working together towards a food system in which people can create, manage, and choose their food system.
  • La Via Campesina – an international movement which coordinates peasant organisations of small and middle-scale producers, agricultural workers, rural women, and indigenous communities

Regernative agriculture

  • Savoy Global – is the large-scale regeneration of the world’s grasslands through Holistic Management to address the global issues of desertification, climate change, and food and water insecurity.
  • Regeneration International – promote, facilitate and accelerate the global transition to regenerative food, farming and land management for the purpose of restoring climate stability, ending world hunger and rebuilding deteriorated social, ecological and economic systems.

Divest

  • Market Forces – believes that the banks, superannuation funds and governments that have custody of our money should use it to protect not damage our environment.
  • 350.org – an international movement of ordinary people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all.

Donut Economics

Where our economic system operates within ecological and social constraints and drops the finite growth approach.

  • Kate Raworth website resources and book explaining this concept thoroughly.

Renewable Energy

  • Renew Economy – Australia’s best informed and most read web-site focusing on clean energy news and analysis, as well as climate policy.
  • Beyond Zero Emissions – a climate change think tank, showing through independent research and innovative solutions how Australia can reach beyond zero emissions.

Gender equality

  • Plan International – driving change to advance children’s rights and equality for girls by working together with children, young people, our supporters and partners.

Compassion and Courage

  • This Ted Talk by political strategist, Tom Rivett-Carnac is well worth watching. It’s about approaching crisis with love.

Other resources for a better world

  • Retrosuburbia – a book by David Holmgren that’s recently become available as an e-book that you can pay what you feel. This book outlines how our suburbs can transform for the better.
  • Australia reMADE – a national organisation working toward whole system transformation.
  • From what is to what if, book by Rob Hopkins.
  • 2040 documentary – explores just some of the possibilities available to us.

And look, there’s more than this list (obviously). I haven’t even mentioned healthcare for all, education, housing and adopting a more ethical approach to refugees seeking safety. There are many, many things needing our attention. And while some of us might feel covid-19 restrictions easing and the sense of crisis lifting. We need to remember that there’s also the ever-present climate crisis here, waiting for us to address it effectively.

Here’s the good and interesting news. A lot of what we’ve already been doing in response to covid-19, i.e. relocalising our diet, flying less, walking/riding our bikes more, working from home where possible, fostering more community (albeit online) – everything – is actually in line with what we need to do to address the climate crisis (except please f*#k off forever physical distancing). But we now know we can make global changes quickly and effectively – if the will is there.

So please my friends, please go forth and sew both those green manure and social seeds to re-nourish our soils and societies towards a better world for all. We are more powerful than we think.

This clever artwork by Brenna Quinlan captures it all…

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