Friday, January 10, 2014


"Abundance" is a term I'm hearing a lot lately.  Mostly through watching the lovely Geoff Lawton's ongoing series of permaculture videos.  

If you've watched these you'll know what I mean ;)

The other day my eldest was out picking beans, carrots & beetroot to prep for preserving / freezing and I could hear her yelling "Mummy! Help!".

Thinking she'd managed to get her beautiful long hair tangled up in something (again), I rushed out into the garden to find her struggling to carry what she'd picked (again).

Funnily enough the same thing happened when she recently harvested radishes, broad beans & silverbeet... then again the other day when she picked tomatoes, eggplant & zucchini.  Fortunately the girls took a large enough basket when they picked the peaches as I'm not sure they'd have survived being dropped and then the roll down our steep drive!

This time her basket had so many beans in it most had ended up falling in with the root veggies when she tried to pick up her haul.  Of course, being only 5, she then tried to pick up the beans and dropped half the beets & carrots she'd managed to fit in her little arms.

Here she is posing with half of her haul before taking it inside.  Her little sister came to the rescue with another basket, a bigger one this time, to retrieve the spilled beans from the root veggies & I grabbed the rest of her beets and carrots.  After snapping this of course :)

I realised then exactly what Geoff keeps banging on about when he says an "abundant landscape".

We have abundant annual veggies, we're pretty good on the perennials too, soon we'll have the same situation with fruit & berry crops.  We are surrounded by wildlife and our garden literally hums with insects.  Our soil squirms with life.  The sheer greeness and colours of all the indigenous plants and companion plants in our garden make us grin when we walk out the door.  Our small, under 1/4 acre property, has life in every square inch.

All of these things nourish us physically and emotionally.

Our abundant landscape however also nourishes us at a deeper level.  The pleasure we gain from caring for the soil, encouraging wildlife, sowing, growing, harvesting, eating and preserving our own food nourishes us emotionally too.  As does taking an active part in our communities.

Our home and life is abundant in food, but it is also abundant in enjoyment, fun, happiness, love and respect.

So, Geoff, if you ever read this mate, time to drop the phrase "abundant lives"  into your next narration because that's what permaculture has given my family and we thank everyone who has helped us on this journey.

Happy new year everyone and may you all be blessed with abundance in 2014!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Loving our Soil - Improvement and Reconditioning (by the Perma Pixie!!)

One of the duo of fantastic permaculture teachers I have is Taj, aka the Perma Pixie.

Like me, Taj has a huge, huge respect and love for that which gives our glorious planet life: soil.

As she has just posted some brilliant posts regarding soil on her blog and I haven't installed a RSS feed yet to here, I thought I would share a little bit of her post so you guys can get a taster.  Then you can pop over to the
Perma Pixie website and check out more.


As a follow-up to my post Soil Soul, I will talk a little now about how to give a little back to our degraded, damaged soils. Only 10% of the earth has soil that can be used to grow food, and it's dwindling fast!

There are a few ways that we can make the soil delicious again... and the keyword here is: 

Organic Matter!

By this I mean natural material, full of carbon and nitrogen. Broken down organic matter is one of the surest ways that we can improve our soils and support the soil food web. This means COMPOST! 

Whats that again? COMPOST? 

All those food scraps that go to landfill, all those half eaten plates of food you see wasted at cafes, all those boxes of cardboard, newspaper, grass clippings, hay, leaf litter, manure... all those half eaten meals, apple cores, broccoli stalks... All of this can actually go towards building healthy soils!

Read more here...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Human Farms?

Are states and countries just human farms?

Throughout history, a ruling class has existed in almost every civilisation from the ancient Chinese and Egyptians, to our present day governments.  Some argue that this ruling class exists only once societies get to a certain size and agricultural innovation makes it possible for an individual to produce more than they need to survive (consume).

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Something for Free

You know that saying, "nothing is ever free" (or if you're Scottish - "ye'll ne'er get sumin fir nothing!")?

We'll, today I just want to say that that might be true, but sometimes just a little input can give you a great return :)

The other day I joined Freecycle for the first time in order to have a quick scope and see if there was any chance somebody had any old irrigation equipment etc they no longer needed.  My garden has been sorely under-watered this year and it's been a very unproductive summer as a result.

There was no irrigation equipment, but I noticed that someone was looking for a clothing rail and as we had one sitting in the garage gathering dust, I thought I'd offer it to her on the off-chance it was still needed.  It was and we arranged for it to be collected on Wednesday morning.

When the lady turned up, her lovely daughter in tow,  it took us about 5 minutes to realise that we had loads in common in our lives and also in our view points on the environment.  The quick visit to pick up the clothes rail, turned into a 4 hour long natter, with several coffees and lunch into the bargain!

Another quick visit, this time to her house on Friday, turned into another marathon as I explored her garden and compared notes.  I arrived with cream cakes for morning tea and left with a bag of zucchini and fresh home laid eggs several hours later.  Since Friday, we've used these gifts for creamy tagliatelle and lemon zucchini pasta, scrambled eggs, macaroni, and a rhubarby bread and butter pudding.

So, not only have I had two great days and lots of nutritious, yummy food, but I now have someone to bounce ideas off, a possible business partner and a what looks like a budding friendship for both me and my daughters.

Not a bad return I think :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Talking about Sustainability and our Forests

A little while ago a satirical graph on the use of the word "sustainable" made it's way around the internet via the National Association of Scholars.  It made me laugh because, as a student of sustainable land management at the time, I'd already become conscious of the fact that the word was being bandied around left, right and centre, without much thought to what it truly meant.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Land Clearing and the Review of Native Vegetation Clearing Guidelines

Just a quick round of thank you: Southern Dandenongs Landcare, Jordan Crooka, Bruce Lindsay of the Environment Defenders Office and Yasmin Kelsall of the Victorian National Parks Association for the detailed talk last night.  

It would appear that by reducing the situations in which a permit is required, making it easier to obtain a permit, using a risk based approach and also changing the language used that the new guidelines will have the overall effect of discounting the importance of local habitat for increased biodiversity.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Passionvine Hopper AKA Fluffy Bums!

This insect is really starting to pick up in numbers in the garden at the moment, with young nymphs and adults being seen in large groups on any stressed plant.
Only part of the large colony living on our fig tree

Friday, January 04, 2013

Revegation Practice and Glyphosate

Recently I raised some concerns on fb regarding the current practices used for revegatation work along creek banks in my local area.

Basically, the practice is to use a glyphosate based product to spray the area to be replanted, and perhaps repeat this at intervals.  Once cleared, the young plants used in the revegatation process then have a better chance of becoming established.

What concerned me about this, other than the fact that I believe the use of chemicals in such a way is not a sustainable practice and is in fact somewhat contradictory to the idea behind the revegatation process, was that we may be doing more harm than good.

Monday, December 31, 2012

December in the Dandenongs

The volunteer tomatoes that popped up everywhere in September are fruiting

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bye bye bee bee, bye bye!

Recently our wonderful, garage dwelling, feral bees ran out of space and a drone cut a hole through the interior wall into the garage.  Bees not being the brightest, they then congregated around the rear window to the garage hoping that somehow the glass would disappear and they'd be able to go on their merry way. 

With nothing to do but wait for a mating flight, one drone decided to create a new exit and gets berated by a female worker for leaving the back door open

Unfortunately, we didn't enter the garage for a couple of days and it was cool and wet overnight.  As the bees only knew of their main entrance to the nest, they couldn't work out what to do and few hundred of them died from exposure over night before we realised what had happened.

We covered up the hole they'd made with copper slugga tape as it was all we had to hand, then covered the window with a tarp and opened the door so the surviving bees could make their way out.  Which they did, slooooowly, over the day.  My DH then had the sad task of sweeping up the deceased.

Just to show that they're not fast learners, a couple of days later the exact same thing happened and again we lost a few hundred bees.

Fortunately, I know David the bee man! :)