From Geoff On http://www.geofflawton.net/crisis/?10042 this weekend we’ve got a special Permaculture Masterclass. Watch me design and explain in 20 minutes how I turned a pretty plain akward 5 acre property that was mostly unusbale into a Permaculture paradise with ponds, swales and food forest. All on a low budget. Every cost revealed. It’s what everyone has been asking for in the comments on my videos on geofflawton.com. This weekend I’m going to show you how to do it, for free, but only on http://www.geofflawton.net/crisis/?10042
Yes you read that correctly, Geoff Lawton and the Permaculture Research Institute has put out a free Permaculture Design Video. You can catch it on http://www.permaculturenews.org.
This is the same Permaculture Research Institute that students doing a Permaculture Design Course with Katoomba Street Permaculture get their accreditation from.
Permaculture Blue Mountains is proud to present another sustainability talk next week.
This talk will be presented by Linda Thomas of Blue Mountains City Council and will explore the extent and impact of weeds in the Blue Mountains.
Linda Thomas has been the Community Weeds Officer at Blue Mountains City Council since 2005. The position is focused on encouraging & supporting conservation works on non- Council land and manages various programs including Landcare , the Bush Backyards Network and the Rural Practice Improvements program which works with landowners in the Megalong Valley and Sun Valley.
The scientists say they now know that the egg came before the chicken, for the proof try watching http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1a8pI65emDE. One of my hobbies now for several years now, has been trying to breed my own chickens; so I guess I have always known that without a fertilized egg I am never going to get chickens, whether under a broody hen or in an incubator. What I always find amazing is that for a chicken to develop under the right conditions from a newly laid egg takes only 3 weeks. I have read suggestions that store bought eggs can be way much older than that.
Twenty-one days of a hen’s body temperature and humidity and there you have it, a fluff ball of “life”. My dilemma is always that a hen leaves the nest after the first few chickens are ready to go and learn to feed. This often leaves a few eggs in the nest only hours away from that moment of emerging free from the shell. Luckily, I do have an incubator, so occasionally (Like now that I’m feeling clucky!) I collect the last eggs and give them that chance at life and try to introduce them back to a broody hen.
With the big down pores of rain we have had lately, even with the hens best intentions I have been loosing very young chick – drowned, cold or somewhere in between. So last fortnight I was watching carefully – one chicken got left behind in the nest with the classic legs up in the air looking almost lifeless. So it spent the day in the hollow of my bra, which thankfully gave it heat enough to revived. Another chick, totally oblivious to it’s mother’s clucks innocently wandered across the yard and was found huddled with some young rabbit kits (not just once but twice). I tried returning them to mother hen’s care but she just didn’t seem to want to know them; so I put them in the incubator with the other 6 eggs I had rescued from her nest the previous morning.
Did you know that even before the baby chick start ‘peeping’ and breaking through the egg shell you can hear the chirping. So cute! Next morning I woke to these 2 chicks and another five that looked wet and pathetic, but a noisy wriggling mass in the incubator. I set up a ‘broody lamp’ and placed them under with a shallow plate of water and some food. Anyway the next day the last 2 eggs hatched. I’ve been told that all the chirping encourages chick less developed to hurry up to break free in the hope that they won’t be left behind. One little black chick in centre of this photo was one of these, sadly he died the day after this picture was taken. He always looked the ‘runt’ and just never had the vigour of the other seven.
With the Blue Mountains Slowfood – Chook Tour coming up this weekend I have been happily involved in the background conversations between all the remarkable ‘fowl’ people in the Mountains and I love the vast knowledge and interesting facts and figures. For example – Did you realize that not all chickens are created equal? Once upon a time I only kept heritage varieties until a fox entered the scene about 2 years ago… so after that loss I gratefully accepted some Chinese Silkies that needed a home. ‘A chook is a chook’ I thought. I was wrong …I knew Silkies weren’t a meat chook and that they went broody frequently, but I didn’t take into consideration how different they are from the commercial chicken. Yes I’m sure you would all recognise a Silkie with it’s fluffy soft feathers that go right down to their toes; but did you know that under those feathers they have 5 toes when the larger domesticated chickens only have four. Apologies to the vegetarians out there, but I think this is fascinating… the flesh and bones are grey, very grey, the sort of grey that no special herb and spices or chicken gravy can disguise. Apparently desirable in some restaurants, but not my family’s dinner table. Over the 2 years and maybe 4 generations, I thought I had breed all of that Silkie genetics out, they are now a strange hybrid crew. So imaging my surprise recently when along came a white almost classic Silkie chicken minus the feathers on the feet. As a new mother may count her newborns babies toes, I was interested to see all my newest chick in this photo have only four toes.
For those of you going on the Chook Tour I do hope the weather stays fine. If you missed out this year, there is bound to be another one next year or maybe think about going to Katoomba Street Permaculture’s next Introduction to Permaculture Course…chooks are always part of the discussions!
There’s a sweet smell of honey wafting by as I approach the wall. I’ve just parked up and apiarist Gavin Smith arrives, up from Sydney but a moment later. Elspeth greets us with an offer of a cup of tea, a lovely start to this misty morning. We’re here because there are bees living in her wall. This is part one of an attempt to encourage them to relocate from the wall into where they are wanted (in my hive).
First up we clear the bushy growth which hides a small hole in the wall where bees are getting into the wood panelling behind which they’ve made their home. Ta-da! Next Gavin (also a carpenter!) constructs a small shelf on we sit the base of the bee box close to the hole.
A couple of guard bees follow us around in turn and we stop a couple of times to walk away from the scene to take the warning level down. Considering the amount of disturbance we’re creating in their routine the colony is not becoming very aggressive and taking it slowly they seem to adapt to each change we introduce without too much drama. The sun comes out, the day is slowly warming up and so the bees becoming more active now…
One guard bee tails Elspeth and loses its stinger on her shirt, another ends up trapped in a sleeve and that bee pings stinger number two in Gavin’s arm before the job is complete. We lose a third squished on the new base, but this doesn’t seem to cause the colony any further distraction. With pollen gathering ramping up, a wall full of honey behind them we appear to be a bit of a nuisance, but no real threat apparently perceived. Still, its enough of a warning for now. Out comes the smoker which pumps out delicate wafts of pine needle smoke, which Gavin uses to direct them away from the hole so he can get a drill in to the hive’s existing entrance space. Next he drills into the wall to make the hole a bit bigger (and rounder) and inserts a small piece of tubing to fit snuggly inside. It doesn’t take long for them to find their way around and inside the wall again.
Next the base of my bee hive goes onto back onto the shelf. The bees spend a little while getting used to the floor of this hive, not landing so well on the metal plate to begin with. Although they get used to this new entrance fairly quickly its a bit of a hop up, so Gavin adds a little stick from the base which they immediately use as a ladder to the tubing entrance.
Here they are coming in through the entrance and lining up from there to the hole in the wall.
Now we have them landing on the base and going in through the tube we’ll add the rest of the hive bit by bit.
In a couple of hours then the first part of this job is done, Gavin heads ‘down the hill’ to help some more bees transition from one home to the next. Before he does, he leaves us honeycomb from a hive in the Rocks. Yum! Instant gratification for us.
For more details and pictures from this morning’s bee adventure with Gavin here:
You’ll find Gavin Smith at the Sydney City beekeepers’ meetups and demonstrating the ways of bees at various community events around Sydney. I’ll be back with more parts of the bee hive later on today and over the next few days(/weeks/months?) and will post updates here. Will the queen resettle, or will we ‘just’ end up with a boatload of honey?
A few hours later, lots more bees hanging outside the wall than usual.
Looks like a move maybe already underway! I was going to add the box at this point but it looks way too busy out here for bee novice Kat to mess with.
Update at 6:30pm
Once I’ve seen my hens go to roost for the night I think, ‘well that’s animals going to bed’, and head out to see where the colony in the wall is up to. They’ve settled down again; was this a demo for the other bees ‘come see how to get in now?’ or are they on their way somewhere new? So much bee language to learn!
I ready the smoker, kindly lent by local beekeeper/s. I’m no so secretly proud of being much quicker at lighting it up this time). I pick up gloves and move in with the empty bee box. Gently smoking the bees as I go I put the box down as far in as there are no bees along the edge of the base, something I saw Tim Malfroy demonstrate when handling a hive to harvest honey at a fabulous natural bee keeping workshop he runs. And I leave it there, dashing away, dash dash! They’re onto me! I’m learning to recognise the swoop of the guards’ intent, and walk away quickly several times to avoid being made an example of.
Today, I declare quietly, is not Sting Kat day, ladies. Thinking calm assertive thoughts, on approaching them once more I pick up a stick to flick remaining bees out from behind the box. It’s a bit tricky as I cant see well from the front what lines up with what, and I’m quite vulnerable to having a beeline made for me by some well posted sentries.
From the space between the wood panelling and the back of the bee box, a distinct tone is audible and carries along the side clearly, I hear it change, and this seems like ‘on alert’ to me. I want to stay and listen but this is ‘no sting for Kat day’ so I keep going. There’s definite confusion as the remaining bees walk the circumference around the entrance which I’ve just mostly blocked off.
I make the smallest movements I can to begin with, but see I am still agitating them so I work quickly to give them maximum time to work out a new route in before bedtime. Three or four jiggles and the box is in place. I haven’t secured the pipe into the hole at the back but it’s lined up well enough for the bees to get back in, if they can work out how to get there.
It’s around 7:30pm now, I stick around to make sure the last couple of dozen bees figure out their way around the box and in the tube, all but a few are in by the time I leave. Phew!
Update Friday 22/02/2013 – 8:15
Beetown is pretty quiet when I arrive on this typically damp Katoomba morning, and its a little cooler than it has been. I spy a few early morning bees clustering around the tube entrance, but no buzzing overhead yet. This is good. I came after a very swift coffee and zoomed over for the next phase of box installation before community gardening this morning. I have an hour and a half, and I’m playing it by ear. The smoker is in the car and stays unlit today. I figured on coming early enough not to disturb the colony so this is going to plan. (yay). The box is above me so I don’t see if activity is building inside the box, as I add the three sided frames that come with this warre hive. Last one in, just as a few more bees poke out from the box and start showing some interest, crawling along the frames and starting to occupy space in flight around the box. Great timing! I think, but too soon. Oh no! the frames are in the wrong way round. So much for swiftly and methodically. Still, its not a drama, I take frames out and neatly replace them 90 degrees to the original position, and here they’re sat correctly lined up in the rebates of the box. I slowly creep the mesh over the top giving bees room to come in or go out working around bees coming and going. Will they find their way out the front again? Oh yes! They’re not even slightly phased. Moments later the first bee exits from one of the holes designed to be an entrance. First one, then two on the right, then the same pattern on the left, within seconds half a dozen more from the right. Ok Nothing to worry about here.
On goes the quilt box on top (providing insulation) finally top the construction off with the metal finished roof. Now we wait. Pictures uploading now at Flickr.com
The local Australian garlic industry is small and imports make up a large quantity of the garlic used in Australia. Imported garlic becomes a problem for those concerned with chemicals used during transportation like pesticides/fumigants and growth retardants. As well as food miles with how far food has travelled and the amount of carbon used in that process.
Not only does garlic make a great taste addition to food but it also contains a chemical called Allicin. Now Allicin is garlic’s defense mechanism against attacks by insect pests, but it also exhibits anti-bacterial and anti fungal properties The other possible health benefits are impressive.
Garlic is relatively easy to grow, as most of us have experienced it will even sprout in the back of the kitchen cupboards without the aid of soil or any care. Traditionally you plant garlic on the shortest day of the year and harvest it on the longest day of the year aka in the Southern Hemisphere, the summer solstice, on December 21st . However the green tops on mine died down at little earlier, so I now have a kitchen with varying bowls of different sized garlic, as well as braids hanging over door knobs. The aroma is there but not over-powering, just enough to keep the vampires away I should think… Each one is different and each year the taste and flavor of any garlic variety will vary with weather and soil condition so that some times they are milder or stronger than usual. www gourmetgarlicgarden.com list some 70 varieties that they sell in the US, Diggers here in Australia.
There are several ways of storing garlic;
Garlic stored in the crisper drawer of your fridge is a common way of keeping small amounts of store bought garlic, but be aware that once garlic has been in the cold, it will start sprouting within days after being brought to room temperature. So if you store it this way, keep it in the fridge until just before you need to use it. If your garlic does sprout, pop it in the garden and use as garlic greens.
Braiding ‘soft neck’ garlic is an old fashioned way of storing garlic, where it dries out slowly over the year till the next harvest. Organic Gardening’s online slideshow show you how. The bulbs slowly loses moisture. As they dry down they loses size and weight and increases in pungency as its mass decreases and things inside condense. Some varieties do last longer than others
Garlic sliced and dried at Place the garlic on the racks and turn the oven to 60 0 C for two hours, then lower it to 50-550 C until the garlic is completely dry and crisp, the idea is to dehydrate it not to cook it. Personally I have a dehydrator which is even easier. Once it does it will keep for years if you can keep it dry. I store mine in a screw-on-lid jar with one of those silica gel – Not To Be Eaten – packets that come with vitamin pills. They will store safely several years this way. The dried slices should to be kept whole until used in order to better preserve the healthy allicin potential. You can grind the dried slices into powder or nuggets at the time you use them and upon re-moisturizing, allicin happens. The whole dried slices will retain almost all of their potency.
Making garlic oil can be a risky business because of garlic‘s low acidity and oil‘s lack of oxygen, at room temperature this can create the environment for the Clostridium botulism bacteria. to develop. However, peeled cloves of garlic can be added to oil and stored in the freezer for several months.
Commercially prepared garlic in oil contains a preservative to increase the acidity of the mixture and keep it safe. To make garlic-flavored oil at home, add dehydrated garlic to olive oil in a wide mouth jar, screw on the lid, and place the jar in the refrigerator. If the olive oil turns solid, just spoon it out using a dry spoon.
Eating pickled garlic doesn’t give the consumer either immediate garlic breath or secondary garlic odor (sweat, lungs, etc.) hours later that cooked fresh or dried garlic gives off. The acid in vinegar neutralizes the alliinase and slowly breaks down the rest of the cloves into odor-less water-soluble compounds similar to the active ingredient in Kyolic brand of aged garlic extract. Growing and pickling your own garlic is an easy and inexpensive way to enjoy excellent flavor and get a few health benefits, too.
Refrigerator Garlic Pickles I tried these over Christmas…
Loosely fill a glass jar with peeled garlic cloves. Add enough red or white wine vinegar to cover the garlic. Add a tablespoon of salt per cup of vinegar. Add dried herbs (not fresh) such as cayenne pepper and dill or bay leaves and oregano to taste. Cover the jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake to distribute the salt and herbs. As long as the garlic remains submerged in the vinegar these garlic pickles will keep almost indefinitely in the fridge,
Freezing Garlic is perhaps the easiest way to preserve garlic. Place the cloves either peeled or unpeeled in freezer bags in the freezer. The cloves become a little mushy when they are thawed, but their flavour remains good enough.
Another method is to chop it and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, nd simply grate or break off small amounts of chopped garlic as needed. Or
You can also freeze garlic that has been pureed in oil. This is nice because the oil keeps the mixture from freezing solid and it can be spooned out as needed, another help for busy cooks. To make frozen garlic oil puree, place one part peeled garlic cloves in a blender or food processor along with two parts olive oil. Puree the mixture, fill ice cube tray/s and cover then transfer them to a freezer immediately. Remember do not store the garlic oil puree at room temperature or in the refrigerator because the mixture can support the growth of the botulism toxin. When frozen the garlic cubes can be more easily stored in a plastic bag and used as needed, a 4-gram cube equals 1 garlic clove.
Garlic Vinegar is another method to preserve garlic for an easy salad dressing Take a bottle of white or red wine vinegar and drop in either whole or chopped garlic. Use as much garlic as you wish, as long as it is completely submerged in the vinegar. Store your garlic vinegar in the fridge. Garlic vinegar will keep, refrigerated, for about four months. If the cloves turn green or blue the mixture is still OK but if mold develops, discard the mixture.
With the changeable weather we are having at the moment it’s not like watering the garden has become an automatic chore at the beginning of each day. Yet watering plants is one of those things that is so important to plant growth generally and if you want a decent harvest – then fruit and vegetables specifically. Those surreal landscapes of circular irrigators twirling over agricultural land are sprinkling water for a very good reason.
I am always amazed when I hear the amount of water needed by trees – in a single day some of our Aussie trees like the larger Eucalyptus globulus will transpire 4000L from the soil up and then into the atmosphere, and big elm trees reportedly pump more. This water evaporates off the many hectares of leaves on these trees and doesn’t even take into consideration the 86% of the internal mass of a tree is also water. Geoff Lawton describes them as “vertical water tanks”
It becomes kinda obvious when you consider that the lush sweetness of dessert fruit holds around 96% water. For this reason an avocado tree can soak up 200L of water per week and citrus varieties are also thirsty needing around 177L water each week. Thank goodness for rain and ground water, cause I certainly don’t have the time nor the water storage capacity to deliver anywhere near that amount of water on an regular basis.
Dihydrogen monoxide (H2O) is so important to plants not just in our hot Aussie sun but also because the majority of nutrients that the plant need to produce their own food with are mostly water soluble. There are 16 chemicals needed all together for optimum growth, some of these are essential (macronutrients) others (micronutrients) may depend on individual plant needs. Sounds simple enough, but by the time you add the type of soil you have to this equation, them it becomes more complicated. Where the soil you have on site may have originated from, the processes it may have undergone over the millennia, the size of grain particles, how much organic matter it contains and even whether it is acidic or alkaline, these questions all make a difference to how water reacts with you soil, making the science of gardening even more interesting. As an example of this, just check out this table sourced from ‘The Water efficient Garden’ by Wendy van Dok.
|Hours it takes to reach desired depth|
|20 cm||40 cm||60 cm|
Makes me ponder the advantages and disadvantages of gardening in sandy soil as I do in Katoomba. Generically web sites tell us the Blue Mountains are sand soils because the underlying parent rock is sedimentary sandstone, within an approximate 20 km radius – residents in Wentworth Falls may be on clay-shale, and people from Hartley Valley are growing in metamorphic-granite soils, and Mt Tomah farms are enjoying the igneous-basalt soil; or you may be planting into variations in between. How to deal with growing in different soil types and microclimates is just one of the things discussed in Katoomba Street Permaculture Design Certificates Courses. Not everyone is going to want to set up gardens on a coral atoll or even in the middle of Afghanistan as some permies have. I can’t imagine wanting to leave the Upper Mountains but Observing and Interacting different strategies and techniques is always beneficial when developing and refining one’s own Design for the better.
Wendy van Dok ‘The Water efficient Garden’ .Waterfall Pty, Limited, 2000