Category Archives: urban farming

New workshop announced: Essential Aquaponics for the Backyard Grower

Essential Aquaponics for the Backyard Grower

When: Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th March, 9 am-3 pm

Where: Springwood, Blue Mountains

Cost:$75 (Early bird) $100 after Friday 1st March

We’ll show you how to raise beautifully fresh organic fish and vegetables in your own backyard using an easy and water efficient growing system!

Learn how to install and run a complete home aquaponics set-up for freshwater fish and veggies all year round.

Some great reasons to book yourself a place:

Know how: learn the key ideas and theory behind successful aquaponics systems

Confidence: get hands on practical experience using materials to build a system and learn to trouble shoot.

Affordable: We’ll show you how to build a system on a budget using affordable materials for a fraction of the price of some commercially available systems. The system we are working on (3 grow beds) should be large enough keep a small family in vegetables and fish and costs around $1000 in materials. I also will show you how to build a smaller system that only costs $100-$200 to make.

Ongoing support: we’ll help you with any questions you might have, both on the day and once you start your own system.

About the course

Dan aquaponicsThis workshop is a beginners course in aquaponics.

We will start with some introductory plant growing information as this is vital before attempting aquaponics. We will discuss garden placement, aspect, and the nutrient requirements of plants as well as some very basic permaculture design ideas.

The gardening introduction will start at approximately 9:30 and run until 11:am. If you feel you already have this knowledge, you are more than welcome to start a little bit later at 11am and join us for morning tea and to meet everyone before we start the aquaponics theory.

Practical demonstrations will involve learning the basic plumbing of an aquaponics setup so you can leave with the knowledge to build your own system, as well as how to trouble shoot and solve common aquaponics issues.389335_263492213749587_214943991937743_473355_910717026_n

Also, we will be building a couple of mini systems to demonstrate the workings of an aquaponics system. These will be large enough to grow a variety of greens and herbs but small enough to fit on even the smallest of balconies. These mini kits will be available for purchase at the end of the course and will cost $120 (to cover the cost of the materials). We will also learn how to grow seedlings specifically for use in an aquaponics system.

This workshop is suitable for all skill and fitness levels. No heavy physical work is involved.

Places are limited to ensure plenty of hands-on experience so bookings are essential.

What to bring

Please bring:

  • note pad, pen and something stable to write on (clipboard etc)
  • work gloves
  • a hat
  • sturdy boots
  • secateurs (if you own them)
  • 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

We loved the workshop very much and found it practical and useful.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!

Practical, thought provoking. Made creating a garden seem like a realistic goal, even for a beginner. Lots of info, but didn’t get bogged down in the detail. I really enjoyed 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 a lot

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

Excellent – more, more!

Cost

The 2 day practical workshop costs $75 per person (Early bird) and $100 after Friday 1st March 2013. The price includes morning and afternoon tea.

Please complete the registration form below and we will send you an email with additional information.


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. This course requires 6 people to go ahead.
Contact:

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

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NEW WORKSHOP DATE ANNOUNCED: Organic gardening for the backyard farmer

Organic Gardening for the Backyard Farmer

Saturday & Sunday 9th & 10th February 2013

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)

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:

I had a great time…I like hands on stuff and I feel much more confident about making compost…I knew it was important for my garden and now I can do it…and using the paper and straw and pocket planting is how I am going to finish of my verge.

We loved the workshop very much and found it practical and useful.

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 1st February 2013. 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.


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

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


What chickens want: a question of chook-food

Blog reader Janneia asks:

Hi Dan.
I’m about to pick up my first ever hens :) and want to know about feeding them grains. I have lots of weeds, scraps etc and would rather buy only what they need instead of simply getting a commercial mix.
Thanks!

Here’s my answer:

Hi Janneia,

What a great question. Chickens are omnivorous animals and require a diverse diet to live well. Like us, they need an amount of vegetation, protein and carbs. Chickens in their natural environment of the jungle roam from place to place scratching as they go. Their main interest is eating meat in the form of bugs, worms, and lizards (just to name a few preferences) and greens and seeds along the way. In an enclosed environment, chickens lose that ability to move on when the bug population is low.

It’s important to decide how you will house the chickens and therefore what level of attention you need to give to their dietary requirements. Chickens that free range totally will clean up the bug population quite quickly and although people often think that letting them wander anywhere is the best thing for the chickens, I would disagree. I prefer to see the garden sectioned off into smaller areas and allow the chickens into one of those areas for a couple of weeks before moving them on to the new area and allow the scratched up area to rest for a few months during growing season. A mobile chook house design is very helpful for this. This way, the chickens naturally disturb the ground and fertilise it at the same time so it is a positive use of the land. Allowing the chickens constant access to the same piece of land will see it overgrazed and scratched up, never allowing it to recover, and has a very negative effect on the land.

So, to answer your question, it is very hard to feed chickens well without bringing in any supplementary feed. You should give them weeds and scraps anyway but this accounts for very little of their dietary requirements. It certainly adds to the quality of their life and entertainment! In order to reduce the amount of grain required, you need to increase the protein you feed them. You could start a large worm farm (feeding it with scraps from other sources such as neighbours or restaurants) and feed the worms to the chickens or you could try Black Soldier fly composting and feed the larvae to the chooks. I have a friend that gets scrap meat from the butcher to feed to the girls once per week (just don’t feed them any chicken meat!). I have started growing eating fish in an aquaponics system and will feed the offal to the chickens.

You can also recycle the used eggshells by drying them in the sun then crushing them into tiny pieces (you don’t want them learning to eat the eggs so need to disguise them) and adding it to their grain mix. This gives them back some minerals such as calcium that they would otherwise replenish through eating small stones as they graze so is extra helpful if you don’t let them free-range.

If you are doing all the right things, you can get away with feeding the girls about a handful of grain each per day but I would highly recommend you start with more and reduce as you see how they go. If you are not feeding them enough they will tell you by crying and not laying.

Happy chicken-raising, it’s great fun and very rewarding!

Daniel

Here’s a few useful resources for the chicken-conscious:

http://www.poultryhub.org/nutrition/nutrient-requirements/ (all-round great site for all sorts of chook info)

http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-1317/ (nutrition for backyard chicken flocks with some good information tables)

Book – Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow (a comprehensive guide to raising chooks, highly recommended for those who want to know a bit more)

What tricks have you found to make your chickens happy and healthy? We’d love to hear about them!

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

Compost is hot, but chook mulch is hotter!

Compost vs mulch

Last post, I wrote about some of the finer points of successful composting. Compost is a great addition to your soil and is vital for making good seedlings. Still, making enough compost to regularly apply to your soil (as many books suggest) is often difficult, requiring excessive amounts of time and materials. If you have added lots of organic matter into your soil and you are happy with the state of it,  I do not think compost is regularly required (though it’s still a good idea to use a decent handful in the planting hole before planting out seedlings). However, for kick-starting a new garden with poor soil (or no soil as is the case for my new garden), you might initially bring in large amounts of compost or manures. Avoid “garden mixes” unless you are on clay as they have too much sand in them. If any readers have an entrepreneurial bent, a specially-made soil full of clay (rather than sand) would be a hit in the Blue Mountains!

Assuming your soil is good, here’s what I recommend, and what I do in my zone 1 garden. Make compost exclusively for seedlings and compost tea. For the rest of your garden, make chook mulch!

How to make chook mulch

1. If you have any spare land or lawn that just never gets used on your property, let the grass grow tall (rather than mowing it) and sow it with a “forage seed mix” that you can buy from rural supply shops. If you don’t have one of these places nearby, the grain in a poultry seed mix works just as well. If you don’t have spare space to grow grass and weeds you  might try a few other things:

    • Ask your neighbours for their grass clipping and weeds.
    • Find a nearby vacant block and ask if you can maintain it.
    • Look around. I recently found a place locally that the council mower men stash grass clippings which could be used for this same purpose.

Why grow your own mulch crops? A few words about plant diversity and plant health:

Unless you’re growing your own grasses and weeds to use in chook mulch, you’ll probably be buying it in the form of straw. Most straw is baled from fields of single crops like wheat, lucerne etc. All of those things are good but the real magic comes from having a diversity of plants in your mulch. Why? Different plants contain different essential elements that other plants require. Let’s use comfrey for an example. Comfrey contains: silica (to build cell walls); nitrogen (to promote leaf growth); magnesium (many uses including making other elements accessible to the plant); calcium (cell wall development and general growth); potassium (to help promote flowering and fruiting; and iron (which allows the plant to photosynthesise and transpire).

comfrey

The goal is to get as many of the essential elements plants need from the soil, into your mulch, and back into your garden. Here is a link to a list of plants you can grow that will help you create great mulch. These types of plants are called “dynamic accumulators”. As well as comfrey, some other common accumulators include carrot, parsley, and borage. These guys are great for bringing in beneficial insects too. Get to know them. They’re some of your best friends in the garden!

Grow lots of dynamic accumulators so you can feed them to your chooks, along with your weeds and grasses. That will ensure that the finished product is a feast of essential minerals for your garden.

parsley

borage

carrot

OK, so now you’ve got your mulch crop sorted…back to making chook mulch!

2. Get chooks and make a straw yard (a chook pen that you can throw straw into and collect it again later).

3. Now cut an armful (I use a 60 litre bin) of grass/forage crops/weeds every other day and give it to the chooks.

weeds, glorious weeds!

Buying a hand sickle or a “Kama” knife from Green Harvest here, will make this job (and many others) ten times easier.

Kama knife

Throw all your weeds in there too. This reduces the amount of grain you need to give to the chooks (I have found about 20% less), and they’ll eat the bits they like (including all the weed seeds) and kick around the grasses/weeds they don’t want to eat so they never has a chance to re-root.

Girls getting excited about the new grass delivery!

4. Let the chooks do their thing for a couple of days. Try to keep any new material away from the older stuff, e.g. up the other end of the straw-yard.

getting stuck in

5. Now you have mulch for free, which is also covered in manure! While teaching my most recent permaculture course I was asked if the fresh chicken manure in the mulch would harm the plants. If the fresh manure was dug into the soil, yes it may burn the roots of the plants. Recall from last article that if fresh organic matter is added above the soil, it slowly breaks down over time. We are just adding the mulch on top of the soil so it is of absolutely no harm. In fact, you can’t regularly buy mulch as good as this anywhere!

6. Apply chook mulch to your garden in a layer of approximately 15cm. Don’t skimp- sprinkling it on isn’t enough to work its magic.

Chook mulch is a winner. It gives you free mulch, happy chooks, delicious golden eggs, fantastic soil, and great gardens!

De-seeded and manured mulch: chook mulch!

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

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