Friday, October 30, 2020

With a lot of help from my friends

 It was the middle of the night, and I was listening to a permaculture podcast about water-saving and storing and landscape revegetation (I often am awake for a few hours in the night).

 All at once was born an idea -that the 6 square metres or more of brick paving between my garden and the road could be much more beautiful and useful as a wildflower garden and habitat for indigenous plants and animals. The bricks are not needed as driveway. They store a lot of heat on a hot day, and they have little cracks in which weeds grow which are then hard to remove. I knew that there was a movement in Australia of people who were digging up lawns and planting native gardens areas like this. Here in Perth we call this Council owned space a 'verge" but in Victoria it was known as a 'nature strip". 

These pictures that I took in Kings Park show just some of the wonderful indigenous plants which are totally adapted to WA climate and conditions. DH and I went there in Spring and loved the displays. What if we could get something like this in front of our house? 

I spoke to DH and DD and they both loved the idea. I even said that, in the middle of the night , I actually believed that I could even take up the bricks myself if I took it slowly, a few a day. They thought I could, and so I got started. I moved about 20 a day and got a pile of about 100 bricks lifted.

Then DS and DDIL came over, and were talking about their wish to extend a deck in the front of their place, as an extra outdoor living space. I offered the bricks -especially if they would help me lift them. The offer was taken up and DS came over on several days to lift brick and take 700 of them home. That saved them the price of the bricks and saved me a huge amount of work. 

DS also lifted about 500 which he didn't want but which I needed moving out of the way. I offered these on my local Buy Nothing Facebook page, and wonderfully someone actually wanted exactly these bricks and yesterday they took them away too! So that was more help! 

Today DH helped me by tidying  up one of the edges by laying the bricks we have left in a line to indicate the end of the paving. 

 The next step will be to get a couple of free loads of mulch from the Council and just spread it over the yellow sand. The summer is on the way and it is NOT a time for planting things now: too hot, too dry. The best time in Perth is in Autumn when the winter rains start. So I want to let the mulch begin to rot down over the summer and allow the soil to begin to behave like soil again. The native plants I will select will be hardy and won't need much attention or water, but they will need soil which is alive with the kinds of beneficial insects and such which will help them grow. I will need some compost when it is time to plant and I have the next 6 months or so to gradually work on that. 

What do you think?

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Living for the earth

Friday 16 October is World Food Day 

This years World Food Day marks the 75th Anniversary of the founding of FAO, with a view to looking towards the future we need to build together and the theme “Grow, nourish, sustain. Together. Our actions are our future.”

See the promotional video here 

This week I read James Rebanks' book "English Pastoral- an Inheritance". It is the story of three generations of farmers, who succumb to the pressures of industrial farming, only to discover that monoculture and poisons and chemical fertilisers are killing the life in the soil and the birds and insects around them.  Rebanks points to the insidious work of supermarkets which consistently drive down the price paid to the farmer, which makes the farmer take these drastic measures. He is now in the business of trying to restore habitat and work regeneratively, but economic pressures make it necessary to do this by working off the farm.

All of this points to the BIG issue we are facing -our economies and our agriculture are going to destroy the fertility of the land, and change the climate for generations unless we do something about it.

That is why World Food Day is pointing out that we need to make agriculture 'sustainable' for the future. They ask us all to do three things -choose LOCAL, choose SEASONAL and Grow Food at Home. 

Did you know that the World Food Program won the Nobel Peace Prize this year

Now, I am one of those lucky people who have both the land and the time to grow some of my food here. This plate contains beetroot, lettuce and asparagus from the garden, and the other things are bought where possible from independent grocers who source the produce from local growers. Sadly in the last two weeks one of our independent fruit and vegetable shops was forced to close -the owner of the property put the rent up, and so they closed, and the little local shopping centre near me is left with a monopoly of a large supermarket which has been found, over the years, to have done things like try to pass off as fresh bread stuff which was made in Ireland (yes, really) and frozen and sent by ship to Australia and then warmed up in store! They have their 'own brand' eggs -some of which come to Perth from Queensland -on trucks -a journey of over 3000km! They push the price of milk so low that dairy farmers are leaving the industry in large numbers. 

I have been inspired by podcasts about regenerative farming. I have begun turning over a patch of land near the street -now under brick paving -back into garden as a result of watching this Ted Talk about "Planting the Rain" in Tuscon .  I am taking up a few bricks at a time, and will heavily mulch over the summer and then plant native plants when the autumn rains arrive in about May next year. (Remember, we are southern hemisphere). 

The bees on my nectarine are so happy -but if the world heats up much more, and if we keep on using pesticides -we may kill off the bees and then what will we do for food?  We are dependent upon a web of life -yet we seem determined to blow it apart and expect it still, somehow, to support us all. 

This week the enviromental journalist Sir David Attenborough was reported to have said "Speaking personally and frankly, we are going to have to live more economically than we do. And we can do that and, I believe we will do it more happily, not less happily. And that the excesses the capitalist system has brought us, have got to be curbed somehow.". "That doesn't mean to say that capitalism is dead and I'm not an economist and I don't know. But I believe the nations of the world, ordinary people worldwide, are beginning to realise that greed does not actually lead to joy."  Read more here 

Happy World Food Day -may we all learn the limits of our greed and start taking care of this one earth on which we all depend. 

Monday, October 5, 2020

Kambarang- season of birth- in my garden

The Noongar season of Kambarang has begun here in South West Western Australia.  Known as the season of birth, it is common for us to see baby birds in their nests at this time. We have a family of magpies here, who are raising a new brood in a nest swaying high up in a tree on a neighbour's property. Each year they come to us for some supplemental feeding whilst the hungry mouths are in the nest. We are feeding kitten biscuits -with a high percentage of protein they seem to like them and can manage them. They come to us a couple of times a day for snacks, and also drink in our bird bath. It is also the season for wildflowers to bloom -especially yellow ones, and for the stalk of the Balga or grasstree to be in evidence.

The season is known for longer and warmer dry periods in between showers of rain. This makes the garden grow fast, but is also a time for me to start examining my reticulation and checking that everything is going to be watered as the hotter weather arrives. 


In my garden I am busy putting seeds in the new wooden flats my DH made for me.

This tray has petunias, black tom tomatoes and rainbow chard. I am also anxiously waiting for chilli seedlings to emerge, along with some za'atar and clove basil which I am growing from some seed I bought via mail order from a local seed saving operation. I am experimenting with a seed raising mix which I have added some coir for extra water retention, and a bit of perlite. 

We also have planted some salvias and Mexican marigolds (Tagates lemonii) , and some Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), to add colour to the garden. I have put up some teepee trellises for the early tomatoes. I have replanted some coriander, after my earlier success in winter, although I know that it is likely to grow more seed than leaf if we get some early hot weather. 

The garden is looking pretty good at the moment, thanks to the fact that I am now in a pretty regular routine of spending a couple of hours peer day in it whenever I can- which is most days of the week, really. I find it the consistently happiest part of my day.