Category Archives: Seed raising

Our Soil Blocking Recipe

Soil blocks ready to seed

Just a quick post on our soil blocking recipe. I always get asked about this and usually point people to the All Sun farm recipe, but I have refined this recipe over the last few years.

Here’s my mix:

  • 2.5 part coco peat (aka coir)

I don’t like the small bricks that you can get in Bunnies etc. as you need to soak them. It is very hard to mix all the other ingredients together well after that. I would say that the bricks are detrimental to the mix unless you soak them and then dry them again and that takes a long time (like a week). I buy it by the bale from Elders in Windsor in a dry form. It is compressed but not like the bricks.

Worm castings also work great but unfortunately nothing you can buy  (like potting mix) seems to work

  • 0.5 part fine basalt dust

That can be hard to find for some people so you can use river sand or horticultural sand. DO NOT USE ANY OTHER SAND. Other types of sand (like sand pit or Sydney sand do not work. It’s not that they don’t work as well but they actually make the seedlings fail catastrophically. Sandpit sand, Sydney sand, brickies sand etc. hold too much water. Your seedlings will turn in to a fungal mess. Try it at your peril.

And some nutrients…

I don’t have a specific measure for these but I use a double hand scoop of each for a full wheel barrow as a guide.

  • Kelp meal

You can get this from rural supplies and horse type places. It should cost about $100 for a 25kg bag.

Be aware of what you are getting. The “meal” part is important. If you try and get the finely ground water soluble kelp, it will cost around $800 per bag.

  • Soft rock phosphate

It is a really vital part of the recipe while your soil is poor.Unfortunately this is hard to get in the ‘burbs by the bag (as opposed to the tonne- you can get it from YLAD in  Young by the tonne). If you find somewhere please let me know.

I get it from a rural supplier in Queensland when I visit relatives. I bought 100kg 3 years ago and still have 20kg left.

  • Blood and bone

I only use this is the recipe during the warmer months, ie. Sept – March. Plants don’t feed as much during the winter and I find using it then promotes fungal growth. I would say it’s essential for summer.

*Note: the phosphate and blood and bone should be provided by your compost mix through the use of dynamic accumulators

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New series of short workshops

We would like to announce that we are now running a whole heap of short workshops focussing on the essential skills of food gardening. Topics include making compost, caring for chooks and a whole heap of other fun things!

Dates and details are in the link below. We hope to see more of you here soon!
https://healthyharvestnsw.wordpress.com/permaculturecourses/food-garden-favourites/

What’s up, Doc? Grow great carrots with these easy steps!

Many people struggle growing carrots for a variety of reasons, but it doesn’t need to be so. Follow these  simple rules and it’s easy!

Common carrot problems

1) Growing tiny or stunted  carrots: Firstly, it is virtually impossible to grow carrots from seedlings. It has been tried over the years by the best and everyone fails. “But you can buy carrot seedlings from nurseries!” I hear you say! Yes, you can buy a lot of cons from nurseries, such as “compost activator” if you want. It doesn’t mean it will work! Basically, any vegetable with a tap root (or that the tap root is the edible part you are after) should be avoided as seedlings: parsnip, carrot and beetroot just to name a few. (If you are a soil block user, beetroot can be successfully grown but it is the only exception).

You have to thin carrots quite early on. If you disturb the tap root of a carrot (or any other tap rooted plant for that matter) they simply stop growing downwards. Just use 2 fingers width as a distance measure between the keepers, and pull the smaller seedlings out in between the ones you want to keep. If you only ever want to eat baby carrots, do the same thing but only use one finger width as a guide.

2) Forked carrots (they often look like little people with their bits in the right places).  Forking can be attributed to either stones in the ground, or over-feeding. Carrots love growing in sandy soil and don’t require to be fertilised very much.

3) Germination of the seeds. Carrot seeds (being so small) cannot be covered very deeply with soil. This means they sit virtually on the surface and once they are wet, they need to be continuously damp to germinate well.

How to fix your carrot problems?

There are a few tricks you can find on the net but I can only tell you what works for me. I don’t like being a slave to the garden so watering carrot seeds up to three times a day doesn’t suit me very well. This technique below may seem a bit time consuming but it is part of establishing a new garden bed (I’m doing a lot of this at the moment). In 6 months it will be a lot simpler once the soil is more fertile and stone-free.

My recipe for carrot success

1. Wait for a period of weather that is forecast to be wet for several days in a row.

Weather forecast

Weather forecast

2. Find an appropriate place to plant your carrot seeds

Mulched bed

Mulched bed

3. In the case of a newly made garden with stones etc., dig a carrot sized hole (to the size the carrot will be at maturity).

Carrot depth hole dug

Carrot depth hole dug

4. Remove any stones from the planting hole, even little ones. If required (my garden is new and the soil is poor) add a bit of extra compost to the planting hole.

Stones removed from planting hole

Stones removed from planting hole

5.  I like to put the carrot seeds that I will be using in a dry container. Why? Well, as you can see, this it a pretty dirty job. If I have dirt on my hands, I won’t put them in a seed packet (unless I intend on using all the seeds) because I don’t want the risk of wetting or getting a soil-borne disease into the packet. This hard container also makes it easy to hold on an angle and tap the seeds out.

Seeds in dry container

Seeds in dry container

6. Sprinkle the seeds in the planting hole. I will expect to be able to grow 4 carrots in this area after thinning. Lightly cover afterwards with a very fine soil up to a depth of 2mm. Unfortunately carrot seeds won’t germinate easily through mulch. Walk away and allow the rain to do its thing

Seeds planted

Seeds planted

Companion plants for carrots include onions, leeks, lettuce and beans.  In warmer months, carrots will happily grow in the shade of taller plants like tomato and celery. Spring-Summer carrots takes about 12 weeks from seed to harvest. In cooler months, it’s more like 18 weeks.

 

Seven days later, the seeds are emerging.

Seeds germinating

Seeds germinating

 

Its now the end of January and we have been harvesting small amounts of carrots for about two weeks. I have been planting new seeds at every wet opportunity (and otherwise fortnightly to keep up with the household carrot demand). Now the garden beds are starting to build lovely new top soil (through the decomposition of the heavy mulch) I am not needing to add compost to the planting holes (instead I cover the surrounding area with mulch to create future soil). I am also finding I can cover the seeds with a layer of very loose, thinly spread mulch. The compost I was initially using was a bought product that I used to get the garden started. Although its pretty good for bought compost it’s a bit dry and dusty so doesn’t retain water very well. Bought compost doesn’t compare to real soil or home made compost for that matter. Germination rates are much higher now in the newly amended soil.

 

Carrots ready to harvest from their planting pocket. I originally thought I would get four carrots per hole but this one comfortably has seven good sized carrots after thinning out the little ones.

Carrots ready

 

Some carrots sitting comfortably among the lettuce, silverbeet and radish.

Carrot leaves

 

This picture is for scale. The carrot is about 10cm (the main part of the flesh and not the long taproot).

I have chosen to grow a variety called Scarlet Nantes  as it is a smaller carrot and suitable for growing in poor or heavy soils. The bend in the carrot is due to it hitting another carrot whilst growing or a perhaps a stone. It’s not a big deal.

As my soil improves I will move on to other carrots like All Season. It’s a better tasting carrot (and larger) but if I had tried this variety initially, I think my success rate would have been much worse. I have tried that variety before in poor unimproved soil with limited success.

Carrot to scale

NEW WORKSHOP ANNOUNCED: Organic Gardening for the Backyard Farmer

Saturday & Sunday 8th & 9th December

Springwood, Blue Mountains

9am-5pm

Workshop structure

Morning: Theory The morning will consist of a 1.5 hour theory lesson which will include time for questions and answers.

Rest of the day: Practical experience. The rest of the day focuses on practical implementation of some of the things discussed.

Morning Tea: We will break at 10.30am for half an hour. We will provide tea, coffee, biscuits and fruit.

Lunch: We will break for lunch at 12.30pm for 1 hour to share a meal and lively conversation together. Please bring a plate of food to share for lunch.

Afternoon Tea: We will break at 3pm for half an hour. We will provide teas, coffee, biscuits and fruit.

What you’ll learn

Learn how to make real compost

I will show you how to make a compost superior to ANYTHING you can purchase from a shop. You’ll also learn how to make it on a small or large scale. Far too many weeds end up in land fill but are full of minerals that need to be returned to your soil. I will show you how to kill the weed seeds and make great compost from garden waste. You will also learn about the nutritional requirements of your plants and how to keep your soil (and your plants) in good shape.

Use chickens as part of your vegetable growing system

Chickens are a valuable part of an organic gardener’s tool kit. Chickens eat all your bugs and weeds, scratch and till the soil and give you free fertiliser. Learn how to use chickens efficiently and constructively (not destructively) as part of your garden system. We will be moving my chickens from their current home into another area. You can find out more about a similar growing system in this article. Bring along your best chicken-rustling boots!

Learn to sow seeds and propagate plants

Learning to sow seeds and propagate plants can be one of the largest cost savers in your self sufficient food gardening system. Learn the basic techniques and tools to sow seeds and take cuttings. We will also reveal the recipe for potting mix which is often the difference between success and failure.

Build a raised bed garden on contour

This will be the main part of the workshop and lots of fun. This type of garden can be built almost ANYWHERE irrespective of slope or the quality of your soil (it can even be built on a concrete slab). In some areas where we will be building, we don’t even have soil. It’s bedrock.

Contour gardens also catch virtually all  run off water and store it for later use. The bed is constructed using a similar technique to “No dig” or “Lasagne” gardens. We will be building the garden on contour almost from scratch. You will learn how to survey your land using simple, easy to make tools (from scrap wood or tree branches).

What to bring

Please bring:

Note pad, pen and something stable to write on (clipboard etc)

gardening gloves

a hat

sturdy boots/ (gum boots if it’s wet)

Secateurs (if you own them)

a Spade (if you own one)

A wheelbarrow (again if you own one and only if you have a ute or van. Please don’t try getting one in a Barina or on the train!)

sunscreen

water-bottle

a plate of healthy food to share at lunch

About the teacher

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 others have said about our workshops:

Great fun and a good way to learn

good, very resourceful, learned a lot, true permie style – just thrown together and used what you have, got everyone involved

awesome stuff!! so inspired and knowledge hungry for more!! THANKYOU

it was informative and fun – you explained it all in a language to newbies could understand easily. Look forward to more workshops!

Absolutely loved it!

I really enjoyed it. Thanks for having us at your home. I hope you benefit greatly as much as we have attending. I am inspired!  🙂 good job!

we loved the workshop and learnt alot

Length was perfect. Split between theory and practical was great. The lunch was brilliant.

Thanks Daniel. It is always great to see how people manage their own blocks. The reinforcement of good planning before execution of a (great) idea is always appreciated.

Excellent – more, more!

Cost

The 2 day practical workshop costs $75 per person (Early bird) and $100 after Friday 30th November. The price includes morning and afternoon tea.

Safety Note: Although your skill level is not important, my block is steep in areas and you will need to be able to walk easily on grassy slopes which may be slippery. These workshops are unfortunately unsuitable for people with any walking related issues or disabilities.

Please fill in the form below to reserve your place.

Booking

The number of places is limited to 15 to facilitate an intensive learning experience. Please complete the booking form  to register your interest.

Payment is 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


NEW WORKSHOP ANNOUNCED: Organic Gardening for the Backyard Farmer

Saturday & Sunday 13th & 14th October,

Springwood, Blue Mountains

9am-5pm

Workshop structure

Morning: Theory The morning will consist of a 1.5 hour theory lesson which will include time for questions and answers.

Rest of the day: Practical experience. The rest of the day focuses on practical implementation of some of the things discussed.

Morning Tea: We will break at 10.30am for half an hour. We will provide tea, coffee, biscuits and fruit.

Lunch: We will break for lunch at 12.30pm for 1 hour to share a meal and lively conversation together. Please bring a plate of food to share for lunch.

Afternoon Tea: We will break at 3pm for half an hour. We will provide teas, coffee, biscuits and fruit.

What you’ll learn

Learn how to make real compost

I will show you how to make a compost superior to ANYTHING you can purchase from a shop. You’ll also learn how to make it on a small or large scale. Far too many weeds end up in land fill but are full of minerals that need to be returned to your soil. I will show you how to kill the weed seeds and make great compost from garden waste. You will also learn about the nutritional requirements of your plants and how to keep your soil (and your plants) in good shape.

Use chickens as part of your vegetable growing system

Chickens are a valuable part of an organic gardener’s tool kit. Chickens eat all your bugs and weeds, scratch and till the soil and give you free fertiliser. Learn how to use chickens efficiently and constructively (not destructively) as part of your garden system. We will be moving my chickens from their current home into another area. You can find out more about a similar growing system in this article. Bring along your best chicken-rustling boots!

Learn to sow seeds and propagate plants

Learning to sow seeds and propagate plants can be one of the largest cost savers in your self sufficient food gardening system. Learn the basic techniques and tools to sow seeds and take cuttings. We will also reveal the recipe for potting mix which is often the difference between success and failure.

Build a raised bed garden on contour

This will be the main part of the workshop and lots of fun. This type of garden can be built almost ANYWHERE irrespective of slope or the quality of your soil (it can even be built on a concrete slab). In some areas where we will be building, we don’t even have soil. It’s bedrock.

Contour gardens also catch virtually all  run off water and store it for later use. The bed is constructed using a similar technique to “No dig” or “Lasagne” gardens. We will be building the garden on contour almost from scratch. You will learn how to survey your land using simple, easy to make tools (from scrap wood or tree branches).

What to bring

Please bring:

Note pad, pen and something stable to write on (clipboard etc)

gardening gloves

a hat

sturdy boots/ (gum boots if it’s wet)

Secateurs (if you own them)

a Spade (if you own one)

A wheelbarrow (again if you own one and only if you have a ute or van. Please don’t try getting one in a Barina or on the train!)

sunscreen

water-bottle

a plate of healthy food to share at lunch

About the teacher

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 others have said about our workshops:

Great fun and a good way to learn

good, very resourceful, learned a lot, true permie style – just thrown together and used what you have, got everyone involved

awesome stuff!! so inspired and knowledge hungry for more!! THANKYOU

it was informative and fun – you explained it all in a language to newbies could understand easily. Look forward to more workshops!

Absolutely loved it!

I really enjoyed it. Thanks for having us at your home. I hope you benefit greatly as much as we have attending. I am inspired!  🙂 good job!

we loved the workshop and learnt alot

Length was perfect. Split between theory and practical was great. The lunch was brilliant.

Thanks Daniel. It is always great to see how people manage their own blocks. The reinforcement of good planning before execution of a (great) idea is always appreciated.

Excellent – more, more!

Cost

The 2 day practical workshop costs $75 per person and includes morning and afternoon tea, and a shared lunch

Safety Note: Although your skill level is not important, my block is steep in areas and you will need to be able to walk easily on grassy slopes which may be slippery. These workshops are unfortunately unsuitable for people with any walking related issues or disabilities.

Please fill in the form below to reserve your place.

Booking

The number of places is limited to 15 to facilitate an intensive learning experience. Please complete the booking form  to register your interest.

Payment is 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


Early Garlic Harvesting

If you live in warmer parts of SE Australia, you still have just enough time to plant out a winter crop of garlic.

Although I prefer to plant around April, you can plant on the shortest day of the year and harvest on the longest day of the year.

Last year, after harvesting in December, I immediately replanted all of my damaged and tiny cloves, not really expecting much until the following spring/ summer. Just last week, I was surprised to already be pulling up small, but incredibly strong flavoured garlic bulbs!

At this time of year, and right through to early spring, the individual cloves aren’t fully formed so you can use them sliced like an onion. You can also just slice the green tops off and use them as an alternative to shallots or spring onions. This “green garlic” as it’s sometimes called, is one of farmer John’s best sellers at his Glenbrook monthly market fruit and veg stall.

You can plant any garlic cloves but organic ones are better as garlic is often sprayed with a chemical to stop it from sending up shoots whilst in the supermarket. If you have time today, just grab any old garlic and give it a try!

June harvested garlic

June harvested garlic

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

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

Blocks are back

After having a less than exceptional result using seedling cells to grow my seedlings, I have decided to keep making soil blocks for my market stall. To make this work, I purchased a new blocking machine from England. The new blocker makes slightly smaller blocks (1.5″) than the previous 2″ blocks. At the next Glenbrook market everything is back in 2″ blocks (the new machine did not arrive in time). For the April markets (and the soon to be attended Marrickville markets) most seedlings will be in the new 1.5″ blocks and remain 50c each. Larger seedlings will be in the 2″ blocks and these will cost 85c.

To find out which seedlings grow in which blocks…you are going to have to wait until the April markets or, if you own a copy, turn to page 152 of  “The new organic grower”

Double your growing space with a trellis!

So you want to grow a pumpkin or melon vine, but you’re worried about the room they take up? Or maybe you just want to get the most out of your growing space?

Here’s the perfect solution! Did you know that a trellis can literally double your garden space?

Not only can you can train plants like peas and beans up them- they’re also great for growing tomatoes, eggplant, melons, pumpkins and cucumbers!

Snowpeas thriving on a home-made tomato tower

Growing tomatoes, eggplant , cucumbers and capsicum vertically has been done in greenhouses across the world for a long time, but I first came across this technique in Eliot Coleman’s books. He (and many others) grow these plants vertically using a frame and a single vertical string. You manually attach the plant to the string, or twist it around the string as it grows. I knocked together a quick trellis for my front garden last week ready for spring and summer harvests.

Easy 1 hour trellis solution using Coleman’s string method

Another valuable resource is Mel Bartholomew’s  “Square Foot Gardening“. Mel recommends growing all the above (as well as melons and pumpkins) vertically using special nylon mesh (capable of holding 60+ kilos of produce). While I have so far been unable to source the nylon mesh in Australia, I’ve found that standard 100mm x 100mm square mesh from fencing suppliers works just as well.

Now you can grow that dream pumpkin only using 50cm of ground (or just 12cm for cucumbers!) In fact, one 2.4 metre long trellis could grow 2 cucumbers, 1 pumpkin, 1 melon, 4 tomato vines and 9 beans. That’s HEAPS of food!

Fruit trees are also great to grow on trellises. This technique is called espaliering and can be used for great decorative effect as well as saving space. Here are some pictures of a fruit tree trellis I’ve recently built for a client. The trellis can accommodate 8 trees in a space that could normally only handle 2-3!

Espaliered fruit tree on trellis wire

Just add your favourite fruit trees, veggies, and climbing flowers!

The start of a fruit orchard avenue

For more information about vertical gardening, you won’t go wrong if you grab a copy of Mel Bartholomew’s  “All New Square Foot Gardening“.  And for some instant inspiration, here’s a video showing techniques of square foot gardening and vertical growing in action. You can also buy my trellis kit or get one custom built for you- call me for a chat. Happy growing!

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