Thursday, 29 September 2011

No Dig Garden Beds

The area is marked out with string lines and roughly hoed
to disturb the weeds 
The weeds are left as organic matter or "green manure"
Biscuits of spoiled Lucerne hay are laid tightly
to block out light

The beds are covered and the paths are left
to be mowed by the guinea pigs or covered in sawdust.
Irrigation lines are run over the hay biscuits
before compost and mineral dust is added and mulch applied.
The right side of the garden is planted with
zuchinni and the three sisters - corn, beans  & squash

The left will have Capsicum, egg plant, and pumpkin.

We have been busy at Purple pear preparing for the summer crops. I have decided to start some "no dig" beds a the sides of the mandalas to utilize the space but as the ground has not had the benifits if the fertility provided by the dome rotation I thought the no dig would add organic matter to the area and boost fertility for the future while producing a crop now.

As you see, we have planted zuchinni and the three sisters on the right of the garden and on the left we are preped for pumpkin, capsicum and eggplant which are all growing on in the plant propagation area, ready for planting.
Excessive rain has come at a great time to soak the hay used to create the beds and the sawdust paths make a better surface to walk on.
We have just a farm tour and a PDC and a weekend workshop on backyard gardening to navigate as well as a couple of workshops for council and the year is over. I will do a couple of days with David Holmgren which will be great. We had the great opportunity to address the Newcastle University last week on sustainable agriculture and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and next year we are looking to do more with schools and a community garden is being discussed as well as some workshops with the Housing Department.
Next year may be more crasy than this one and we very much hope to continue the skills for living sustainably workshops but will probably do just one PDC as the interest seems to have wained or money got too tight.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Fruit Tree Guilds

There are many fruit trees among the beds of the mandala garden. We have around thirty as part of ours and this is a sizable orchard in it's own right let alone as part of the garden.

The fruit trees generally are placed in the space where the mandalas touch each other, in the corners where they meet.
The picture above shows the two domes in the background and the weed-filled circle in the foreground. This highlights the junction between the three mandalas and the Nectarine is blooming in the space between the mandalas.
The North (Sun) side of the garden has the deciduous trees such as pear, apple, peach and nectarine and the South (rear) of the garden is planted with Citrus as they are evergreen. This is to allow the Sun into the garden in the winter and to afford the plants some shade in the summer.

The trees are not alone but are planted with an under-story as part of the guild the supports the tree. Lavender grows close to the trunk of the fruit tree to deter borer as it winds its way through the lower branches. Garlic Chives disguise the presence of the fruit and affect fungal problems too. Yarrow and Tansy are used on various trees to support the specific problems encountered by the tree. For instance the Tansy near a Citrus will deter ants that trace honeydew from scale and cause sooty mould in oranges and the like. 

The three sides of the tree are accompanied by a dwarf Nerium Oleander to provide over-wintering for beneficial insects such as lady-beetles and predatory wasps. Acacias can do a similar job but with the added advantage of fixing nitrogen and providing mulch through chop n drop.
This acacia supports the apple tree.
Another important part of the guild is the habitat for the beneficial creatures. Little birds sheltering in the branches leave dropping to support the trees growth and eat some insect pests too.

Terracotta pipes provide a home and a place to sun-bake for lizards.

A guild may be described as "an harmonious interaction of elements within a system" and it is by looking to the needs and outcomes expected of the subject tree that you design a guild for that tree and the components of the guild.