Category Archives: Pest control

Open now: weekend intensive “Practical Permaculture” course Saturday 30th June – Sunday 1st July

Practical Permaculture: Creative ways of designing and living for a more sustainable future

A two-day experiential course

Saturday 30th June & Sunday 1st July 2012

Facilitated by Daniel Hatfield and Gordon Williams

Venue: Private home and gardens in Railway Avenue, Faulconbridge, NSW 2776
(convenient for train, bus and free on-street parking)

Time: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm

Fee: $150 early bird (until 25th June) or $180 after 25th June

The number of participants is limited to 15 people to facilitate an intensive learning experience.

Join Permaculture teachers, designers & gardeners Daniel Hatfield and Gordon Williams for a weekend of intensive permaculture design, theory and practical workshops for the home gardener or backyard farmer.

Learn how to

  • Harness Permaculture principles and practical strategies to beat rising food and energy costs

  • Understand and apply Permaculture design techniques for a healthy, comfortable home and garden

  • Create your own Permaculture garden design and learn how to bring it to life!

Topics include:

  • efficient energy planning and systems
  • fundamentals of site design
  • climate and microclimate
  • landforms, soil and water
  • waste resources and systems
  • garden layout and design for urban, suburban and cold areas
  • orchards and food forests
  • animal forage systems and aquaculture
  • community strategies for engagement and action including urban food-growing, recycling and economics.

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Learning objectives

By the end of the course you will have:

A working understanding of permaculture designs and principles.

Ideas and confidence to create your own permaculture design project.

The pre-requisite skills and knowledge to complete a Permaculture Design Course.

Learning methods

A significant portion of the course comprises experiential learning. Practical demonstrations and small group workshops on key permaculture techniques are designed to bring to life and reinforce core theory and concepts.

The course provides a solid grounding in Permaculture theory, combining this with practical skill development through interactive learning experiences and course handouts. A range of learning methods are used including: presentations, video, experiential exercises, and small group activities.

About the teachers

Gordon Williams is a Permaculture consultant and educator currently working in Sydney and the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia.

Raised in the Blue Mountains, Gordon was able to spend time in the surrounding national parks and bushland where he gained an appreciation for the natural systems within them. His six years of experience as a carpenter has led to a deep understanding of the difference between good and bad building design and construction. As a result of these experiences his passion is to see the built environment blend smoothly into the living surroundings.

Gordon’s journey along the Permaculture path began when he inherited the family kitchen garden. While on the hunt for information on growing food, Rosemary Morrow’s book ” Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture” proved to be a revelation.

Gordon has trained with some of Australia’s most respected Permaculture educators such as Rosemary Morrow, Darren Doherty and Geoff Lawton. He has also worked at the Permaculture Research Institute in both educational and on farm roles.

Daniel Hatfield is a passionate food gardener, educator and permaculturist. He has been working professionally with plants and gardens since 2006, focusing specifically on organic food gardening since 2008. Daniel believes in producing and promoting growing healthy, seasonal and local fruit and vegetables. He describes his practices as ‘beyond organic’. Daniel approaches food gardening from a wholistic perspective, addressing issues at their core, rather than use quick-fix sprays or fertilisers, either organic or inorganic. He enjoys sharing his passion for permaculture and helping people develop confidence and new skills in organic gardening.

Daniel takes his inspiration from the principles of Permaculture, as well as organic farmers such as Eliot Coleman and Joel Salatin. Daniel completed his Permaculture Design Certificate under Geoff Lawton at the Permaculture Research Institute, and holds tertiary degrees in art and photography.

What people are saying

The presenters, Daniel and Gordon, were knowledgeable and friendly. The course was a good mix of practical workshops and theory. The group size worked well and made for a cosy and enjoyable learning experience.

I had read a lot of books but discussing the theories, asking questions and hearing practical examples just helped cement it all. It seems to have stuck better..

Good interactions with the participants, lots of helpful diagrams, reference books and clear and lively delivery from both presenters.

The workshops were tailored really well. The right length, plenty of opportunity to get our hands dirty and a consistent but not overwhelming stream of information to accompany the practical skills.

Lots of fun and really informative. Great to get outside and practice some of the theory. AAA+++

Very good would recommend it to any one interested in growing food

Overall the course was fantastic. Daniel and Gordon were knowledgeable, enthusiastic and willing to share both knowledge and resources. I learnt so much more than I thought possible.

A BIG THANK YOU for the wonderful course, the beautiful venue(s) and the nourishing company. I would highly recommend the course.

Booking

The number of places is limited to 15 to facilitate an intensive learning experience. Please complete the booking form below and forward the course fee to D Hatfield, 10 Parkes Crescent, Faulconbridge NSW 2776 by 25th June 2012 for early-bird discount ($150) or by 29th June 2012 for regular payment ($180).

Payment available via bank transfer or credit card (details available on booking) or cheque or postal order payable to Daniel Hatfield.

Cancellation

Cancelled bookings will receive a full refund up until 2 weeks before the course. After that time you are welcome to transfer your booking to another person but the fee will be non-refundable. Please note that this course requires a minimum number of 10 participants to go ahead.
Contact:

E: daniel@healthyharvest.com.au, P: 0431 383 516

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Weekend Intensive Course: Practical Permaculture for Home and Garden

Practical Permaculture: Creative ways of designing and living for a more sustainable future

A two-day experiential course

1st and 2nd of September 2012

ALSO

3rd and 4th of November 2012

Facilitated by Daniel Hatfield and Gordon Williams

Venue: Private home and gardens in the lower Blue Mountains
(convenient for train, bus and free on-street parking)

Time: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm

Fee: September course $150 early bird by 18th of August or $180 thereafter.

November course $150 early bird by 19th of October or $180 thereafter.


The number of participants is limited to facilitate an intensive learning experience.

Join Permaculture teachers, designers & gardeners Daniel Hatfield and Gordon Williams for a weekend of intensive permaculture design, theory and practical workshops for the home gardener or backyard farmer.

Learn how to

  • Harness Permaculture principles and practical strategies to beat rising food and energy costs

  • Understand and apply Permaculture design techniques for a healthy, comfortable home and garden

  • Create your own Permaculture garden design and learn how to bring it to life!

Topics include:

  • efficient energy planning and systems
  • fundamentals of site design
  • climate and microclimate
  • landforms, soil and water
  • waste resources and systems
  • garden layout and design for urban, suburban and cold areas
  • orchards and food forests
  • animal forage systems and aquaculture
  • community strategies for engagement and action including urban food-growing, recycling and economics.

Learning objectives

By the end of the course you will have:

A working understanding of permaculture designs and principles.

Ideas and confidence to create your own permaculture design project.

The pre-requisite skills and knowledge to complete a Permaculture Design Course.

Learning methods

A significant portion of the course comprises experiential learning. Practical demonstrations and small group workshops on key permaculture techniques are designed to bring to life and reinforce core theory and concepts.

The course provides a solid grounding in Permaculture theory, combining this with practical skill development through interactive learning experiences and course handouts. A range of learning methods are used including: presentations, video, experiential exercises, and small group activities.

About the teachers

Gordon Williams is a Permaculture consultant and educator currently working in Sydney and the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia.

Raised in the Blue Mountains, Gordon was able to spend time in the surrounding national parks and bushland where he gained an appreciation for the natural systems within them. His six years of experience as a carpenter has led to a deep understanding of the difference between good and bad building design and construction. As a result of these experiences his passion is to see the built environment blend smoothly into the living surroundings.

Gordon’s journey along the Permaculture path began when he inherited the family kitchen garden. While on the hunt for information on growing food, Rosemary Morrow’s book ” Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture” proved to be a revelation.

Gordon has trained with some of Australia’s most respected Permaculture educators such as Rosemary Morrow, Darren Doherty and Geoff Lawton. He has also worked at the Permaculture Research Institute in both educational and on farm roles.

Daniel Hatfield is a passionate food gardener, educator and permaculturist. He has been working professionally with plants and gardens since 2006, focusing specifically on organic food gardening since 2008. Daniel believes in producing and promoting growing healthy, seasonal and local fruit and vegetables. He describes his practices as ‘beyond organic’. Daniel approaches food gardening from a wholistic perspective, addressing issues at their core, rather than use quick-fix sprays or fertilisers, either organic or inorganic. He enjoys sharing his passion for permaculture and helping people develop confidence and new skills in organic gardening.

Daniel takes his inspiration from the principles of Permaculture, as well as organic farmers such as Eliot Coleman and Joel Salatin. Daniel completed his Permaculture Design Certificate under Geoff Lawton at the Permaculture Research Institute, and holds tertiary degrees in art and photography.

Booking

The number of places is limited to facilitate an intensive learning experience. Please complete the booking form below and forward the course fee by May 3rd to D Hatfield, 10 Parkes Crescent, Faulconbridge NSW 2776.

Payment available via bank transfer (details available on booking) or cheque or postal order payable to Daniel Hatfield.

Cancellation

Cancelled bookings will receive a full refund up until April 20th. After April 20th you are welcome to transfer your booking to another person but the fee will be non-refundable. Please note that this course requires a minimum number of 10 participants to go ahead.
Contact:

E: daniel@healthyharvest.com.au, P: 0431 383 516

How to protect your seedlings from frost and birds with simple, effective row covers

Easy row covers

Easy row covers

Last time I visited my SPIN farming block, I was very concerned to meet a family of wood-ducks who liked the look of my beds. I knew I had to get some row covers up over my onion seedlings as soon as possible! Had they been lettuce they would have been gone already.

I took some pictures while we worked to show you how you can also set up row covers to protect your plants from frosts and birds. I am using a lightweight fleece material to cover each row as it protects the plants while letting water through and they can also breathe.

The fleece is so light that more established seedlings will lift it up as they grow taller, eliminating the need for hoops. Personally, I prefer to use the hoops because the fleece will crush small seedlings. Also, birds are less likely to walk along the top of it (also crushing the seedlings) since many animals are deterred by wobbly structures (and perching on the hoops is not so much of a problem).

What I used:

  • bright orange builder’s string to mark out the rows (I had already marked them out when I planted them)
  • tape measure
  • thin stakes (approx 60 for this large bed) made from various recycled materials including tent poles
  • 20mm blue stripe irrigation pipe (cut into 1.7 m sections for hoops)
  • 25mm blue stripe irrigation pipe for clips (cut into 8-10 cm sections for clips)
  • Sanding block to smooth the clip edges (so they didn’t tear the cover fleece)
  • light fleece material for the covers (available from farming suppliers or contact me if you are interested in buying some)
  • a helpful wife (it’s much easier and faster to do this job with another set of hands)

How to do it

Beds marked out

Beds marked out

Here is a picture of 4 beds planted out with onion seedlings. They are marked out with high visibility builder’s string so I don’t step on any young seedlings. I adopted this technique after crushing too many young plants and it works exceptionally well. Once the plants are relatively mature (15-20cm) I will remove the string and undersow the entire area with a living mulch of white and red clover. If you want to learn more about living mulches and undersowing, read my previous article on the subject here.

Each bed is 75cm wide and there is a 30cm path between each row. This size makes the beds easy to straddle and move between when watering, feeding, and harvesting.

Beds with stakes

Beds with stakes

I placed stakes (made from various materials including recycled tent poles and 12mm metal bars) at even intervals (every 1.7 metres here) down each side of the row.

I used 20mm blue stripe irrigation pipe to make the hoops. I think this is the best pipe to use as it is the strongest and does not kink very easily. It costs approximately $50 for 50 metres. We cut 1.7 m sections of pipe so we had some good height on the rows. To make the hoops, you just fit each end of the pipe onto the stakes you’ve placed along the rows.

Fitting the hoops

Fitting the hoops

Measure out enough fleece cover so that you have a 1-2 m at each end to make sure it is easily closed off and tight.

Clever home-made clips

I wanted to clip the row cover neatly on to hoops using something that would be quick and easy to remove. Some people use rocks to hold down the covers but I didn’t want to have to carry rocks in and out from between 30cm wide paths. I also did not want to trip on the rocks on such a narrow pathway and risk falling on the hoops.

I saw somebody selling clips exactly for this purpose for $1.80 each but we needed 54 of them and I really wanted to avoid spending $100 just on clips!

I decided that I could make them myself. I had some leftover 25 mm irrigation pipe from another job.  I cut 8-10 cm sections of pipe and cut a groove in the side so it was opened up. It could then clip snugly over the 20mm pipe hoops .

I cut out a 30mm groove from the 25mm pipe and it clipped the row cover perfectly however it tore the material. I decided to lightly sand the clip edges and this worked perfectly which saved me $100 on  pre-made clips.

Cutting clips

Cutting clips

Sanding clips

Sanding clips

Once the clips are smoothed off and ready to use, start clipping the material working from one end of the row to the other. Gather the material at the hoop so there isn’t any slack along the ground between hoops. It’s virtually impossible to get the top of the rows taut without compromising the structure so don’t worry about trying. The important thing is that the fleece is taut along the ground so that it is hard for birds to get underneath.

Attaching cover

Attaching cover

The clips will fit nicely over the 20mm hoops and material, leaving neatly covered, adjustable row covers. Gather up the material at each end of the row and weigh it down with something heavy  so it doesn’t blow off (or tie it and stake it if you prefer).

Finished covers

Finished covers

This cover will keep most birds out and will also trap some heat, making the seedlings grow much faster. When the warmer weather arrives the cover can be removed and replaced with a green 30% shadecloth. This will make growing leafy greens much easier in hot weather.

I have the fleece for sale for $2/metre, so if you are interested please contact me.

Beneficial insects – what they are and how to get them!

Bee working hard on a coneflower

Spring is fast approaching and the bugs are starting to come back into my garden as well as my clients’ gardens now they are spray-free zones.

Beneficial bugs do wonders for our plants. Sadly, many people falsely believe that all bugs are bad and need to be destroyed!  So, here’s a little bit of information about the good guys in the garden. I’m focussing particularly on predatory bugs here- the ones that eat the bad guys!

What are beneficial insects?

You can separate bugs into two groups. Bad bugs eat your plants and cause disease. Good bugs, or beneficial insects, eat the bad bugs and pollinate your plants, which gives you more fruit.

Beneficial insects are great to have around as they take care of most of your disease and insect problems.

Here are few common bugs you want to have around. I’ve added links to good photos of these insects if you’re not sure what they look like.

  • Hoverflies are important pollinators in the garden and excellent predators of aphids. Often mistaken for bees or wasps.
  • Lace Wing larvae are predators for a wide range of pests including aphids, moth eggs and small larvae, scale and whiteflies.

Ladybugs are already emerging up here in the mountains. It’s important to be able to tell the good from the bad.

  • The common ladybug (or orange ladybug) adults and larvae feed on wide range of aphids but also feed on mites, moths eggs and small larvae.
  • The funguseating ladybird is also found on plants with fungal problems like powdery mildew on cucurbits (cucumber, pumpkin etc.)

Note: There is another ladybug commonly known as the 28 spotted ladybug but that is a bad bug and feeds on plants. You don’t want this one!

Creating the right environment

Flowers for beauty and the bugs

Flowering basil

Now you know who they are,  you’ll need somewhere for the beneficial insects to live. Start planting lots of ground covers and flowers around your food crops. I like to plant marigolds, zinnias, parsley, lavender, allysum and coneflowers among other annuals and perennials.

Tall growing flowers like coneflowers and zinnias look great, cut well, and are popular with bees (and wives). However, because they are tall, they can shade out low-growing vegetables so be careful where you plant them. Better choices for near vegie patches are low-growing white clover or allysum.  Letting your vegetables and herbs go to flower will also attract many beneficial bugs.

I’ll be making a beneficial bug seed mix to sell at my market stall in Spring. Contact me if you’d like to order ahead.

Rocks and twigs are also good places for bugs to take refuge on cold nights. I’ll be making some bug hotels in the next couple of weeks and will post pics and instructions on the blog.

Remember: if you spray plants with anything (organic or not) then you are going risk harming the beneficial insects as well as killing off their food supply. If you wait, the good bugs will come….trust me. I tried it myself.

My bug experiment

Last year, our early rose growth was covered in thrip. This is very normal in Spring, since thrip love to suck the moisture from new growth. Unfortunately, their sucking affects buds on the roses and can kill early flower buds. It’s not fatal to the plant but interferes with good flowering and is pretty annoying.

I’d previously found an organic ‘wonder-spray’ called Neem that was reported to kill everything, including caterpillars (which most insecticides don’t kill).

However, I really wanted to move away from using any sprays of any type, organic or not. Instead, I wanted to create a balanced ecological system where the garden would pretty much take care of itself.

I knew all the theory about beneficial bugs and so I was confident that the bugs would come as the weather warmed. Hard as it was, I trusted the theory and I waited.

Sure enough, I soon noticed hoverflies in and around the brassicas that we had planted under the roses. Soon, larvae started appearing on the brassicas AND roses! Then the ladybugs came, and their larvae appeared too, and then THE THRIP ALL DISAPPEARED within about 24-48 hours. Completely gone!

If we’d sprayed, we would have killed the thrip, but they would have kept coming back again and again, and we’d have to keep spraying them. The beneficial bugs would have no reason to visit the plants, and the cycle would continue.

By trusting in the natural food cycle of the garden, we eradicated our thrip problem and gained a whole lot of bug friends. I encourage you to try an experiment like that.

So, next time you see some bad bugs, don’t panic! Instead, think of them as food for the good bugs. After all, you won’t get beneficial insects if they don’t have anything to eat!

Here is a link to a very useful site for more information about beneficial insects.

If you have any good beneficial bug stories, I’d love to hear them!

Tips and tricks from this month’s market: home-made fruit fly traps and vertical gardens

Thank you to everyone who braved the rainy weather and came down to the stall this morning. Today I was asked several gardening questions and I thought I should put up a few links to articles about some of what we discussed.

I spoke to one person about a home made fruit fly remedy and here is a link to a forum which describes a recipe. There are many home made recipes if you Google “Homemade fruit fly trap”.

Another person was looking to use their small city balcony to plant a few vegies and I mentioned that you can use a wooden pallet stood upright to make a vertical garden. Here is a great step-by-step guide on how to make one.

See you all next month.

Daniel

Undersowing, rotational grazing, and a mobile chook house (all in one raised bed)

We have finally completed the first raised bed. Here’s a quick recap on the design (you can see earlier articles here and here). The bed is 1 of 5. Four of the beds will have vegies growing at any one time, whilst the fifth will house my ‘gang’ of chickens. The bed’s wire cover and hoops are mobile, and will be moved from bed to bed after harvest as each one becomes available.

Alongside the vegies growing in each bed, I will be sowing a variety of green manures (if you have never heard of green manuring please see this link). This technique is called ‘undersowing’ and was popularised and adapted for vegetable growing by the US farmer, Eliot Coleman. The technique involves planting seeds or seedlings of your chosen vegie crop, followed by a subsequent planting (4-6 weeks after) of a green manure crop alongside the main crop.

The idea is that the main crop will always be larger than the green manure crop so the green manure crop does not overtake and affect the growth of the main crop. This system allows the ground to be protected by a living mulch (thus removing the need for expensive straw or lucerne mulch). After harvesting the main crop, the green manure can be dug into the soil.

I will be adding another element to that system by introducing chickens into the rotation. Instead of digging the green manure crop in myself, I will leave it for the chickens to graze on and scratch up leaving a clean (weed free), tilled and manured bed for the next crop. This idea took two years of planning and revisions and was originally inspired by a visit to a number of small scale farms which use similar designs to move chickens from bed to bed. I adapted these designs to to suit my own landscape and needs.

As you’ll see in the picture, the bed has been filled up with a large amount of wandering dew (trad) which was taken from my neighbour, an amateur wandering dew farmer. I tried to explain that there is no money in farming this crop but he is not prepared to listen to reason at this point. So far, I’ve managed to score 15 wheelbarrows of wandering dew. This is fortunate for me, since I’ve calculated that I will need 6-8 cubic metres of soil to fill the bed. This would cost approximately $300-400 delivered. Instead, the wandering dew, grass clippings, straw, cow manure and other vegie scraps will provide fodder and entertainment for the chooks, and will become compost in a relatively short time, and all for free!

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A quick description of the pictures.

As you will see there are 2 doors. The larger door is man size and is used to access the drinking water and food for the chooks. This door is also used to add straw etc. The second small door on the end is purely used to access eggs in the nesting boxes. Both of the doors are part of the metal wire construction and move along with the coop.

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