Carrots galore…

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Did well with carrots this season. These carrots taste a lot stronger than the store bought ones. Why would that be?

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Garlic time…

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Our first crop of garlic Yaay!!

I thought that we had to wait till Christmas but this lot had given up. Let me know if you think that we rushed it…

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Near perfect Papaya

After having given up hope of our papayas ever ripening for most of this year, it was a pleasant surprise to finally have a ripe one.

Nothing beats a home grown papaya.

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Latest pictures of our front garden

Manicured grape vines

Manicured grape vines

Front yard tidied up after the season.

Front yard tidied up after the season.

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Globe Artichoke

My first ever Globe Artichoke after making concerted efforts for the last 3 years.

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Also, this is my first post from my Android. Yahoo!! I should be able to post more regularly now.

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A Mandala Garden

I was really inspired by Kate and Mark’s Mandala Garden.  Designed on inspiration from Linda Woodrow’s book “The Permaculture Home Garden”  they have come up with their own workable blueprint. I have had Linda’s book on my shelf for many years but have never seen it in action until today.  I remembered thinking when I first read this book, what a useful and common sense approach this woman had to creating a garden.   Careful design and planning can significantly reduce the manual labour involved in weeding, nourishing soil, carting compost, digging, harvesting and more. Critical design elements allow you to work smarter in the garden and not harder, thus allowing you time to enough the fruits of your labour.  Purple Pear have also incorporated permaculture principles into the design along with Biodynamic preparations that are used and prepared on the farm.

The meaning of mandala comes from the sanskrit meaning “circle”. A mandala represents wholeness. When applied to a garden design grouping several mandala’s together, we find a special synergy occurs where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The relationship between the elements within the mandala system are carefully considered as much as each element in itself.
At the centre of each mandala is a pond that encourages frogs and lizards and birds into the garden. Besser blocks are used to home lizards.  This in turn helps manage pest control without the use of chemicals.  It also helps to create a microclimate influencing heat and moisture control and can also be used for edible water plants.  Surrounding the centre circle at Purple Pear Farm are 6 surrounding circles. They have 2 of these mandala systems operating.Chicken-Tractor-Rotation-NewThe keyhole path design allows for easy planting and picking. It uses minimal space  and maximises garden bed space.  On the edge of the mandala garden are vegetables that are harvested often and are quick to grow, e.g: lettuce,  with those only harvested once at the centre of the circle. They are intensely planted with a diversity of plants at differing stages of maturity.  This ‘continuous polyculture’ helps to control pests, conserve nutrients and suppress weeds. Garden beds are companion planted and rotated within the mandala design.

Integral to this design is the use of a chicken dome or tractor.  This is definitely a way to work smarter.  The chook dome is rotated within the mandala design.  The chickens clean out used beds, pulling out weeds, finishing off odd crops, eating pests and fertilising as they go.  Mulch is then added and the chickens spread it, eating out weed seeds and insects and  making way for a new vegetable garden ready to be planted out.  The chook dome is placed on the bed for 2 weeks and is rotated within the 2 mandala systems at Purple Pear which means it is 6 months before the chickens revisit a bed.  This allows plants to go through their maturity cycle.

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Fruit trees are planted just on the outside of each circular bed rather than in a separate area.  This allows the fruit trees to be in proximity for daily routine care of watering, feeding and  bug patrol that you would do as part of your care for your vegetables.  The rotating chook dome also cleans up fallen fruit that may have gone to waste. DSC00572mandala1-1 DSCN0765DSCN076320150919_122226Compost piles are also made at the end of each circular bed around the fruit trees . These are used as compost piles for 6 months of the year.  they are then turned into beds for selective crops for the remainder of the year.

If you want more information I recommend reading Linda’s book.  After seeing it in action I realise the principles could easily apply to a small backyard garden as it would to a large scale farm.  I hope you were as inspired as I was to rethink some aspects of your garden design and incorporate something new.

permaculture home garden        Happy gardening.  Natasha

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Purple Pear Farm Tour

DSCN0727Well the weather held out and was kind to us today during our Purple Pear Farm tour, an established permaculture, biodynamic and organic farm that are part of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Network.

We were greeted by Kate and Mark and were guided around the property by Kate as she explained all about the farm from the animals, which they had plenty (a cow, donkey, ducks, geese, two big pigs, at least 70 chickens and guinness pigs and a couple of dogs) to their use a mandala system in the organic veggie section where most of their chickens are used in this rotating tractor system. They have their own bee hives which pollinate the crop as well as supplying honey.
Swales are set up to catch and distribute water around the property as well as many ponds and a dam. Berms are used mainly as windbreaks.
Their olive grove is young but have grapes, plenty of berries and mulberry trees and also fruits like apple and pear and bananas.
I liked the idea of their compost bins that are made up of layered tomato stakes up to any height you wish.
They also create homeopathic biodynamic compost by using a Cow pad pit which is diluted in warm water and stirred for twenty minutes before being applied with a bucket and brush around the property.
Some useful ideas came out of it and I sure Roland went home with plenty of ideas that could be implemented at his place.

More to come about their Mandala system by Natasha.

A fun day had by all!!

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Grahame

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