Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services

"Let Nature Take Its Course"

This is the fifth installment in my discussion of the 12 principles of permaculture. This time I am sharing my thoughts on the principle, "Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services". 

This principle is about husbanding our renewable resources using thrift and prudence. Today we hear the word sustainability used often, this is because we  have reached and era of resource limits. Using and valuing renewable resources and services in preference to using non-renewable resources is very important in both mitigating effects of climate change and in leaving some non-renewable resources for the generations that follow.

Passive cooling and heating within the home are good examples of using renewable resources. By orientating a house design so that it catches the prevailing summer breezes a home can be kept more comfortable in summer. By designing the house so it is shaded from the hot summer sun but brings the winter sun in to warm up the house we can avoid or at least decrease the need to rely on non-renewable energy resources. If we add a solar power system then it is possible to avoid using non-renewable energy resources altogether whilst keeping the home a comfortable temperature.

The Australian Government's website yourhome.gov.au describes the type of home and lifestyle toward which we are transitioning. 

 "Housing of the future will be flexible, adaptable and resilient, helping us to respond to both predicted and unexpected change. As resources will be scarcer and most likely more expensive, housing will need to be capable of meeting its own energy and water needs, producing food and recovering precious nutrients and materials from waste streams. It will be space-efficient in response to ecological limits and the increasing number of single person households, reversing Australian housing stock’s current status as the largest (by floor area) in the world (James 2009)."

Using and valuing renewable resources and services encourages us to use our resources fully so that one resource is used for more than one purpose; and to use our resources in a manner that supports their renewal and regeneration. Chooks kept in the back yard for example, as a resource can supply eggs and meat, eat garden pests, and add fertility to the garden with their manure. If we are to value that resource then we look after the chooks properly, seeing to it that their shelter, food, health and water needs are met properly. This includes mucking out and cleaning their coop.

I meant to take some photos of some chickens but time has fled
so here is a camel photo instead!

 Joel Salatin of Polyface farms moves his grass fed beef cattle from one small lot to another every day or every other day. The cattle fertilise the area during this time.  He follows the cattle with chickens and they dig through the cow manure and eat fly larvae and in turn leave more manure on the field. In this way they are following nature’s template, and using healthy soil to produce healthy food rather than treating cows as omnivores. “We haven’t bought a bag of chemical fertilizer in half a century, never planted a seed, own no plow or disk or silo—we call those bankruptcy tubes.” Joel Salatin. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Less Is More

Who strive - you don't know how the others strive
To paint a little thing like that you smeared
Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,-
Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
(I know his name, no matter) - so much less!
Well, less is more, Lucrezia.

~Robert Browning
Andrea del Sarto

The phrase 'less is more' is often attributed to the minimalist movement. The ideology behind the expression 'less is more'  is often expressed as simplicity and clarity leads to good design. This got me thinking about simplicity and clarity leading to a good life. People who are attracted to the simple living lifestyle often feel the desire for a hand crafted life. And I am no exception. I want to sew, knit, and crochet beautiful and useful items. I want to not only learn how to grow an abundance of food and manage garden pests, but also how to care for my immediate environment. I want to learn how to preserve as much of our harvest as possible. I want to make do and mend and re-purpose old furniture and other items which means basic carpentry, upholstery and even jewelry making are high on my list of skills to learn. I want to cook everything from scratch in my kitchen.  And yet…., and yet….

I  wonder why   the hours are passing me by without being able to work on this project or start that new project or get to this week's baking and heck,  half the week has gone already.

Well, less is more Lucrezia

I have realised in my desire to escape consumerism and become a producer I have added more and more things that I want to achieve. Hopes, desires, and aspirations are good things in my book.  But as with Rome, I do not have to build my simple life in one day. It is the small steps added together over the days and the years that will see me along my journey.  It has been said that people in general discount the small goals preferring sweeping dramatic goals, however it is the accumulation of small steps that often make more difference than reaching for a large goal.  It is interesting that many people who are interested in the Simple Living movement are also interested in minimalism, recognising that less stuff means less clutter and this can increase happiness. Well I think it is about time to de-clutter my expectations, and take a minimalist approach to my aspirations. Perhaps by narrowing down what I want to achieve at this time to one or two skills, such as finishing my permaculture course and knitting. Perhaps.

Well, less is more, Lucrezia.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016


"When you embrace change you get it working in your favour"

Who among you "does affirmations?" I have been doing them on and off for years. I use them as a "treatment" for problems. For example if is someone at work is upsetting me I will use the affirmation "Such and such is a golden link in my chain of good." This brings me feelings of relief as I know I cannot change the other person, the only person I can change is myself and this usually means changing my perceptions about other people or situations. After saying this affirmation to myself repeatedly I eventually reach a point where I can start perceiving the person and the situation in another way.  By "repeatedly" I mean days, weeks or in the case of one person, years. 

I remember at one job there was co-worker who I found extremely challenging to work with and caused me on many occasions to consider leaving my job. I tried the usual ways in dealing with the relationship, one on one with the person, speaking to my supervisor, nothing resolved the problem and I was going to work full of resentment and bitterness day after day. I started using the "golden link" affirmation along with other affirmations on and off for a couple of years. There was no immediate change, but I did start to feel more hopeful about working with this person. This was in spite of the fact that every interaction between myself and this individual left me upset and agitated. One day I realised I was allowing this other person to make me feel bad for long periods of time, in effect I would sit there stewing while everyone else at work was oblivious to how I was feeling. So I changed; after every interaction with this person upset me, I would say to myself, "You are not going to think about this any longer, you are going to think about something that makes you happy," and I would. Or I would repeat an affirmation a few times, and then I was able to get on with my work with a clear head. Later on in when I was over the incident, I would stop and deliberately spend a few moments thinking about the positive aspects of this person. Over a couple of years I actually got to the point where I was able to enjoy working with this individual by appreciating their positive qualities and characteristics. The situation eventually resolved itself in a way that I had never anticipated.

I don't make a religious practice out of doing affirmations. By that I mean I don't do them daily, week in and week out. But if a situation or condition is causing me stress I will change my thoughts about that situation using an affirmation. The feeling of hopeful possibilities engendered by saying the affirmation always bring about a feeling of relief. Of course I am not saying I only rely on affirmations exclusively to deal with difficulties. Positive action is often an important ingredient in working my way through difficult times. However there are times when one is in a "holding pattern" when you are waiting for something to happen before being able to take positive action. Waiting for medical test results is a good example, when the only positive  thing I can do is repeat affirmations in order to deal with fear and negative feelings.

What caused me to start thinking along these lines this morning was that I hadn't "done" any affirmations for several weeks. I felt like doing some this morning, not for any reason, just because I felt like it. So I did some "reps" and it felt so good, I was happy and content before I did my affirmations but after I felt even more positive and light.

My "go to" affirmations:

I am loveable and capable

I choose to fill my world with joy

I have a wonderful job in a wonderful way, I give wonderful service for wonderful pay.

I am well, and perfect health is mine.

"Name" is a golden link in my chain of good

I am unmoved by appearances and appearances change

I am blessed beyond my fondest dreams

I have the magic purse of the spirit, as money goes out money comes back in, it is jammed, crammed with abundance.

Do you use affirmations?

Monday, 9 May 2016

My New Veggie Garden

A keyhole garden is nothing more than a raised, round, six foot diameter garden with a keyhole notch to access a centre basket that holds all kitchen scraps. They’ve been used for years in Africa to help locals reclaim gardening space due to desertification issues. - Deb Toleman

As part of the permaculture course I am doing I had to build a structure and I chose to build a keyhole garden. In planning this structure I considered the location, function and the construction materials.

The function of my structure was obviously to "Obtain a Yield" - in this case fresh, organically grown fruit and vegetables. 

In considering construction materials I at first wanted to build the structure using lovely sandstone coloured garden blocks. However the cost for one garden bed would have been way more money that I was prepared to spend. So my husband and I decided to use besser blocks. The garden design includes a compost 'basket' in the middle. The idea for the compost basket is that when the compost basket is watered both the water and compost nutrients filter throughout the soil. The warmth from the besser blocks helps to "Catch and Store Energy" as does the composting process that takes place in the middle of the garden. 

I planted some seedlings into the garden and was surprised at both how fast the seedlings grew and the size to which the plants grew, compared to seedlings I have planted in other gardens. It was a great project and I have two additional keyhole garden beds on my permaculture property design that will be constructed some time down the track.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

In My Garden in May 2016

If you are not prepared for discouragements and disillusions; if you will not be content with a small result for a big effort, then do not begin. Lie down again and resume the uneasy doze which you call your existence. - Arnold Bennett

I just know that Arnold Bennett wrote those words with me in mind, even though he penned them decades ago. He must have looked forward in time and saw my hours of effort spent in the garden and the small results I gain in return. Much of my gardening experience goes under the heading 'lessons learned' and I move forward in inches when I would like to be moving forward in leaps and bounds. I see the pictures of the food other people have harvested and wish that I too could enjoy so much of nature's bounty. 

But there is much to be said for the little successes such as using my (whole) harvest of mulberries to bake a mulberry crunch. Yes just the one. Sigh. However we did enjoy it very much. And there is much too to be said of the little joys, such as my gardening buddies - a pair of butcher birds who follow me around the garden. 

We have yet to experience any hint of autumn weather here in the subtropics. Our mandarin tree is full of ripening fruit and we have ripe lemons. We have tiny cumquats (kumquats) growing on a tree in a pot. The mulberries are now finished and the passionfruit vine has exhausted itself. One of our apple trees, I think it is called Tropical Beauty is flowering as is the carambola tree. The frangipani's are losing their leaves.

So what am I hoping to do in the garden in May?  Fertilise and mulch the citrus and prune them as needed before the spring bud burst which happened last year before the end of winter. Lightly prune the mulberries, as it is my understanding that fruit only comes on the new wood.

I also want to check the soil pH around the mango trees, if the soil pH is 6 or above I will apply some gypsum and if it is below  6 I will apply lime.

I also have some salvias that I need to prune and a hibiscus I want to tidy up.  I have lots of weeding to do and the durantas also need pruning. I also want to cut all the dead flowers out of the bird of paradise plants.

What are you planning to do in the garden this month?