Friday, February 20, 2009

Zucchini and the end of the World as we know it.

Ahh, zucchini! What an accommodating plant- it springs up quickly and before you know it, huge lush leaves, saffron yellow flowers and fruit that go from fingerlings to logs the size of a forearm overnight.

I thought I might list a few links in this post. Our lifestyle has changed immeasurably in the past year. One of the deciding factors to make a change has been the desire to create a Permaculture forest which is a reality now we have bought our 15 acres. Our block is a typical farming block, it was used as grazing land and as a result the ground is quite compacted and hard. Some grass still struggles through but effects of the drought are showing. Everytime I go there, I am filled with excitement because I can envision what it will look like eventually, in contrast to it's current state. In years to come I'm hoping it will be bursting with fruit trees and garden and bushland.
To really get an understanding of Permaculture principles, I am slowly but surely trying to do my Permaculture Design Certificate with the aim of producing a plan for our land. You can read about Permaculture at this site- Permaculture Visions which is the group I am doing the certificate with.

I am obsessed with water. It makes me despair when I see precious water go unharvested. At first, I focussed on water harvesting with rainwater tanks and as you know I've been investigating water recycling plants for our new house but as I find out more about Permaculture, the more I realise that it's not just about filling tanks and dams. The Australian landscape can't hold water at the moment, our presence on this land has slowly degraded the soil, and often the soil is unshaded by groundcovers and prone to baking and erosion. It's going to be the most important experiment of my life to see if I can turn our patch around to be able to hold moisture in the soil to safeguard against drought.

I've been watching some incredible stories on Youtube about this very topic, some excellent one's to watch are Geoff Lawton's story about creating an oasis in the desert of Jordan called "Greening the desert." And this rather emotional story of Peter Andrews who managed to create a property rich in water through his exceptional understanding of landscape.

Another issue that I am concerned about is that of food security , of course it is a terrible reality for many people in Third World countries. I am proud that there are people out there going to these places and helping others help themselves. This is a lovely article about an Australian by the name of Bill Mollison who actually came up with the whole concept of Permaculture. This article mentions the work that he is undertaking around the world to help these very people regenerate land and grow their own food.

I don't think we are immune to the problems we see in under developed countries. My turning point came after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, I couldn't help imagining that if a place like that could descend into chaos after a natural disaster, what would happen to Melbourne if say, terrorists struck, or it flooded. I think we got a tiny glimpse of what could occur after the last heat wave when public transport almost ground to a halt, and we had power outages. With the terrible bushfires in Victoria nearly a fortnight ago now, apart from the appalling loss of life, Melbourne's power was under threat when a fire threatened to take out a power plant. I hadn't really thought about that aspect before, but could you imagine food spoiling in freezers and refrigerators? Maybe electricity powered water treatment plants failing? Hospitals? I don't like this feeling of teetering on the brink.
As I was growing up I was so exasperated with my mother because of her compulsion to horde. Our toilet had 72 rolls of spare loo paper, we had 20 cans of condensed milk at a time. I think Mum would look at her piles and feel secure. I guess when I was young, I didn't really understand the world Mum had come from and how it affected her for the whole of her life. Mum is Japanese, and she grew up in wartime. She was pulled from school regularly to help farmers keep up a food supply, she saw the flash of the bomb and the deprivations that followed after war and surrender. Now I find myself circling my little garden patch several times of day and feeling a sense of security when I see edible things in there. It seems selfish, but not if everybody is growing or producing a little bit of food, we would be there to help each other.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gotta remember the good things in life.

Victoria has been through hell with the bushfires. I feel the weight. But then I spy chooks and kids alike having fun in the sand, it's gotta make you smile. Life continues it's momentum.

Out at the property, we met the Biolytix rep last week to get a quote for a waste water treatment plant. I'm excited to think that our precious tank water will be used once in the house and then reused once it's treated with filters, microbes, bugs and worms in the garden. We will have greenery! This Summer has made me a little nervous about water. We'll be self sufficient in water when the house is built, this means that our water will be fresh from the sky, no more chlorinated cack coming out our pipes but we will be at nature's mercy as to whether there will be enough for us.
Years ago I was horrified that Queenslanders were going to drink their treated poo water, now I wouldn't think twice about it if we were to do it here in Vic. Black water that has been extensively treated is purer than some of the potable water in various countries around the World, and who knows what poos or dies in our catchment reservoirs.
We went out to the property on Sunday night. Phil has been wielding the brushcutter against the gorse again, he's conceded it's too much for one man. Perhaps one man and a couple of goats will do the trick. I absolutely can't wait to have some livestock! I love the chooks but Ruminants are my thing!
Sunset at Ashbourne rd.

Friday, February 6, 2009

She cracks

It's funny how one can go along thinking things are going wonderful and then all of a sudden whilst doing the dishes- a mini breakdown happens on one. There I was scrubbing the pans when all of a sudden I felt totally overwhelmed. As the tears rolled down my cheeks, a lightness came upon me, I realised the problem was that I was donning too many hats. Here I am in my new identity as a gardener, a student, a landscaper, an inhabitant of a bushfire prone area, a home educator, a carer for frail parents- but I haven't shed my old City self. Something has to give.
This week I have a special 50th birthday celebration of an old friend to attend and a medical appointment for my father but after that, I put my foot down! Two weeks are crossed off for-

  • new seeds to plant
  • a new garden bed to be defined
  • the compost heap needs attention
  • fruit trees to be purchased
  • the wastewater treatment options for the new house need to be addressed
  • an alpaca farm needs to be visited
  • Permaculture Design Course homework
  • tomatoes need to be canned
  • working on photography with my son
  • swimming with my daughter
  • sitting on the verandah with my Significant Other
  • organising protective clothing in case of bushfire
  • absent mindedly wandering around the garden
So there you have it, I have confessed- "I'M NOT COPING!"