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  • Beverley Paine
    I m into permaculture with an interest in natural farming . I live on four acres but don t produce from it - it s like a big suburban backyard. We earn our
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 13, 2003
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      I'm into permaculture with an interest in 'natural farming'. I live on four
      acres but don't produce from it - it's like a big suburban backyard. We
      earn our main income off site, working at a hardware store, and I write and
      sell homeschooling books.

      I garden for about half an hour a week. I think this is pretty close to
      'natural farming', no work approach!

      My vegie patch is ten metres square. I don't let the chickens or ducks
      anywhere near it, which means I do weeding and digging by hand. We collect
      a trailer of green grocer scraps from the local supermarket each week and
      compost these with spoiled hay, shredded newspaper and litter from the
      guinea pig/pigeon enclosure. The weeds from the garden feed the guinea pigs
      and they and the pigeons manure the litter. I also have a barrel of water
      into which I place woody or prickly weeds or plants with seeds I don't want
      coming up again. This makes a compost tea which I dilute and put on the
      garden every so often.

      I'm harvesting leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, silverbeet, bunching onions,
      parsley, lettuce, beetroot leaves at the moment. There are a few spuds I
      can dig up, plus the broad beans are about to set. There is always
      something for the table each day. I've learned to eat what grows. I have
      flowers in the garden too - they help draw me out there and bring the
      insects and bees. My most successful crops are those that have self sown
      from left over plants and those that pop up from the compost we use. In
      summer I mulch heavily - the nasturtiums that grow profusely through winter
      are great mulch when dried, but I often buy a hay bale and pull the grass
      that comes up for the guinea pigs (in summer there is little grass for them
      and it becomes a treat).

      I haven't tried seedballs yet, but I scatter mixed seeds and cover lightly
      with soil and compost and that seems to be working well. This is what I see
      happening naturally. I realised that I had to sow heavily to get a decent
      crop. I also propagate some seeds in seedling trays just in case nothing
      comes up - but only because I love growing seedlings. I grow about 500 tree
      seedlings each year for a volunteer tree growing environmental group (Trees
      For Life).

      Yes, weeds do take over the garden, but they have their uses. Every ten
      weeks or so I do a big weed pull and the animals get fed a mountain of
      food, most of which actually ends up as compost. It's very satisfying. But
      I'm only working with a small area, and then only with vegetables for the
      dinner table.

      I know that in life you don't get anything out if you don't put anything
      in. Natural farming to me is more about using my head and working to reduce
      the physical labour and use of petrol/etc machines and organising schedules
      and space to produce the maximum yield. Scattering seed works well in
      nature - the abundant weeds prove that. I also know not to pull the deep
      rooted weeds from the garden now, but to check their spread by picking the
      flower heads. If you can prevent weeds coming onto your property in the
      first place that is a bonus. We compost anything that comes in from
      elsewhere - having learned the hard way.

      any way, all the best from Beverley in Yankalilla South Australia

      http://bungala.beverleypaine.com for permaculture gardens web site
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