That is possibly true, but what makes you believe that I would not install stainless steel mesh filters on the inlets to those water tanks?
The other thing is that culturally some countries are more attuned to consuming ground water from wells than others. In Australia we have a preference for rain water tanks because of the salt levels in the ground. Wells can often bring salts back to the surface and that is not good. In many countries wells are also contaminated by other minerals leeching out of the surrounding rocks, and I believe India has some areas where the ground water from deep wells is contaminated with arsenic for example. And fracking in the US is not problem free for ground water tables from my understanding.
Plus, the other thing to consider with wells is the availability of energy and pumps to lift the water from deep aquifers. Lifting water is not a cheap process (I am not connected to the electricity grid and rely 100% on solar power). I'm not actually sure how deep your wells are and that can make a difference, but here I know people who have water bores (what you call wells) and they can drop as far as 330+ feet. I'd be interested to hear about that aspect of your wells as it is such a different experience to here.
I wouldn't worry too much about evaporation and algae. If you are at all concerned, you may be surprised to know that your plastic down pipes will be already full of algae (green algae), they are part of the natural flora - as long as it is not blue-green algae which produces toxins and that seems unlikely in a water tank system.
I have about 105,000 Litres of water storage in tanks and that is my primary (and only) water source and I've been drinking the stuff for about a decade with no health issues.
You have to remember that in water catchments there are plenty of animals doing their business in and around the water supply. We're much hardier creatures than you may guess.
As to heat, you'll find that with a black tank, the air above the water inside the tank will be quite warm - even over winter.
The water itself won't heat up too much unless you get a few days in a row past 40'C.
It is also worthwhile mentioning that for stick (arc) welding at least, some of the older units (if mildly well cared for) will last longer far longer than the newer units.
Years ago I lived opposite a bloke who earned a living as a sculptor - he was quite well known, although I had no idea who he was and just enjoyed the use of his workshop and the occasional talk fest. He had a beast of an old stick welder which he reckons was from the 50's and he told me about the older welders being of remarkably good quality.
I run a beast of an old stick welder which looks like it was locally made in the 70's. It's heavy and it runs perfectly on the off grid solar power system too. The interesting thing about that is that at start up the unit draws quite a bit of electricity, but once the arc is underway, they're quite economical on electricity.
Mind you, I'm considering getting a MIG welder as well.
And yes, I'd put in a vote for women being better welders than men too. I'd put it down to care and attention to detail. My welds can be a bit agricultural, but they do the job.
Hey! I'm down under and have many water tanks. The largest is just shy of 10,000 gallon. It's big.
We use a layer of rock crusher dust underneath water tanks and that stuff compacts amazingly. It is like a really finely ground granite. If you can't get your hands on that, then a layer of sand will do the trick nicely.
When full, they weigh so much that they settle the ground.
The only other trick to remember is do not dig a trench running parallel and close to one side of the water tank. The trench will compact and the water tank can tilt. It happens.
Instead, dig any trench immediately away from the water tank as if you are trying to get away from the water tank as fast as possible (or like the spoke on a bike wheel). Then when you are a short distance away from the water tank then you can change direction.
M. A. Carey wrote:The box is insulated with 1-1/2" styrofoam on all sides, bottom with thin plastic above the styrofoam (with small slant and drain for runoff from cleaning during maintenance), and the top is insulated, and shingled on the outside, which is slanted like a house roof. This top/lid, comes off to maintain and check the batteries. We have siding on the outside of the box on all sides other than the shingled roof. The battery box is right next to our cabin, on the south side, where it is close to have all the wiring coming into the cabin and also close to the solar panels that are on frames and can be tilted
Thanks for the reply and I have no particular problems with batteries being stored in a well ventilated box.
The thing to consider in these arrangements is that the battery charge controller possibly should have a temperature probe attached to the side of the batteries. The reason for this is that:
- In summer when the batteries are warm to hot, and yours are facing south so that the box they are in may receive direct sunlight as well as warm air temperatures. The batteries should be charged at a lower voltage than at colder temperatures. You run the risk of the batteries venting hydrogen and oxygen if you do not compensate for battery temperatures. Summers here can get over 100'F so perhaps this is more of a concern for down here.
- In winter when the batteries are cool to cold, they need to be charged at higher voltages because the chemical reaction is more sluggish. The alternative is that the batteries are undercharging during this time, and there is the inevitable risk of draining the batteries.
Most charge controllers have temperature probes attached to the sides of the controller - and that controller may sit inside a warm cabin rather than outside with the batteries.
As another consideration, styrofoam is a very flammable product - although as you correctly note - it is an excellent insulator. I believe this material was the possible culprit in the recent fire at the Grenfell Tower in London where I believe 58 people died (and maybe more). I'd suggest instead using mineral wool or fire check plaster, fibro cement as a possible alternatives.
I've been off grid for about 8 years now and rely on 100% solar. My place is in down under and we are about the same latitude (I'm 37.5'S and you are about 35'N).
Firstly, you have to slow down and go right back to basics. The reply from Isa above is one of the best replies so far to your questions.
Mate, I'm sorry to tell you this, but your batteries are not a fuel tank and do not work like a fuel tank. I can't put it any simpler than that.
They are instead a chemical reactor. And chemical reactions change depending on how hot or cold it gets.
Mate, you were writing something strange about putting your batteries in a box which may be subject to the weather. This is not a good idea.
The batteries should be kept at best at a more or less reasonable temperature.
Also if something goes wrong in the system and for some strange reason the batteries (I'm assuming that they are lead acid chemistry) get too much charge they will vent hydrogen and oxygen. You may recall the Hindenburg airship. That mix of gases didn't work so well for them.
If on the other hand you are using lithium ion batteries (which is a possibility) if you over charge them, they can be subject to thermal runaway and catch fire.
Neither option is good.
So I suggest you go back to basics and figure where you are going to place the batteries so that they don't get subject to massive swings in temperature.
Then from there, the inverter as you rightly put it, needs to be located close to the batteries.
When you figure that out, the next step is placing the charge controller nearby all that stuff.
Give us a yell. Or drop by my blog as I was upgrading my off grid solar a few weeks ago and there are plenty of photos.
A 500L water tank when full will weigh in at 500kg (for the water) + the weight of the tank itself. Make sure that tank support is strong enough to handle the weight when full - and remember that timber in your location will possibly break down unless sufficient air and sun can get to it so as to keep it more dry than it would otherwise be. I've been on tank water for many years being in the much drier country of Australia. Although I have 105,000L stored in the water tanks! With your roof space of 25 sq metres, you may be interested to know that for every square metre of roofspace you will harvest 1L of rainfall for every 1mm of rain - assuming you can catch all of that wet stuff which falls from the sky. The water should exit your tank at about 10L per minute using gravity alone. Hope that helps. One inch pipes (25mm) produce a good flow of water, but then 3/4 inch (20mm) pipes are pretty good too.
I'm also on off grid solar power and have been for many years. You are in the northern hemisphere at 8 degrees latitude, so you want to angle your solar panels at about that same latitude but facing south. The sun doesn't change its location in the sky by much from season to season and will be much higher overhead on average than down here. I'm at a latitude of 37.5 degrees south and my panels face north at about that angle. During summer the sun is high overhead, but during the winter months the sun is closer to the horizon during the day. The angle is really a compromise of sorts between maximising winter sun and summer sun. The solar panels have to face the sun in order to produce the best output, but near enough is good enough. Incidentally, ignore all advice about trackers for solar panels which follow the sun during the day because I have seen many installations of these devices and every one of them was broken. They sound great in theory and they will increase your solar output, but... Manual solar trackers are great, if you can remember to move the solar panels several times per day, every single day of the year without fail.
Yes, not all inverters are the same in that regard and many of them have very high standby current draws. I've been off grid for about eight years now and I use a locally (Australian) made Latronics inverter 24V / 3000W which has only a 0.6Ah draw (24V x 0.6Ah = 14.4Wh).
There is no easy way to resolve your issue other than:
- Replace the inverter;
- Add more panels to compensate for the high standby current draw; or
- Switch the inverter off say at night when it may not be as essential.
Mind you, I leave mine running 24/7.
Incidentally, if you are hearing a lot of buzzing noises from your inverter, the capacitors may be on the way out, so try not to let the unit get too hot as that dries out the inverters capacitors. Also a huge amount of radio interference also means that the unit may pack it in in soon-ish.
As a suggested alternative, if you have access to free local rocks, have you considered rock gabion retaining walls? I make them here being on a steep site and they withstand very heavy rain - but I also have lots of free rocks so that makes them very cheap and very local.
Thanks for posting this video. It is good stuff. As an interesting side note, in Australia, the cabbage tree palms have edible heads, but of course that would interfere with the nesting spots for the birds in that particular Food Forest. The Aboriginals used to plant the palms up and down the east coast along waterways.
Sometimes getting to visit a food forest can be difficult. Well, I've sort of saved everyone a lot of trouble and put together a short video of about 700 photos showing how quickly a food forest can grow - all from the comfort of your arm chair (or wherever!). You can see the seasons change, and the herbage grow underneath the fruit trees. The chickens pop in and out of the photos and observant viewers can even spot some of the huge diversity of wildlife that shares the farm here.
The farm is split into two halves with two different food forests. This video shows the more shady food forest which has cooler varieties of fruit trees such as pears, cherries, nuts and apples. The other food forest which is more sunny (and you don't get to see in the video) has the more sun loving fruit trees such as almonds, citrus, apricots, plums, nectarines and peaches.
The bird calls in the audio were recorded a few weeks back and that is what the food forest sounds like here.
Many thanks for the informative reply. Heating the hive over winter here would be a tricky business. I'm on off grid solar and there is just enough light here for current needs for about 3 weeks either side of the winter solstice when the sun is lower in the sky. The 3 weeks after the winter solstice would be very cold indeed for those stingless bees. The European honey bees and all of the other local native bees seem quite happy and content with that situation though. You may be interested to know that even during those winter days - and it does snow here occasionally - that if the daytime temperature ever exceeds 10'C, the European bees will send out foragers. There are flowers here all year around for them just for that purpose. The flowers was a complex problem to work through.
Nice to hear (excuse the pun)! I do get the Gang Gang black cockatoos here, but I didn't notice any around that evening. They sound like squeaky doors and are unmistakable. The cocaktoos in the recording where the Sulphur Crested variety. I've noticed that the Long beaked Corella's are spreading their range too and they also turn up here from time to time now. They sure do kick up a fuss, but the magpies which live here permanently send them on their way. I've read that a lot of people have troubles with the cockatoos - they can even begin sharpening their beaks on house frames and windows. One chewed through a low voltage solar power cable once...
Hey, out of curiosity, how far south do you believe that the stingless bees can be kept? I have plenty of varieties of native bee - both small and large - here and they love the garden. I also keep European honey bees too.
Well, it is now spring here in the land of down under. The food forest of 300+ different fruit trees are growing well and there has been a whole lot of rain this year in this corner of Australia. Anyway, I was in the food forest the other night supervising the chickens who get to free roam (lucky them!) most evenings under the fruit trees and I decided to take the microphone and laptop out and record the bird song. It is pretty feral here as there are a huge number of birds. The recording is an mp3 file which you can download for free from my podcast website at this link: Fernglade Farm weekly podcast
Hope you enjoy it! And it is a pleasure to share this place with the good people here. The bird calls should sound quite exotic to people living in the Northern hemisphere and I have not edited or altered the recording in any way.
The huge quantity and diversity of wildlife at the farm here Down Under never ceases to amaze me. The wildlife forms a big part of the animal systems here. I back onto forest and every critter that could put in a special guest appearance does so at one time or another. But I never expected this little fella - who was cold, wet and hungry - to turn up on my doorstep on Sunday! The story can be found here: How much can a Koala Bear?. I thought that the permies might enjoy the story and photos. He seems to be doing well now and is in good care!
Hi Burra. Many thanks, I hadn't thought about doing that and it is a good idea!
PS: I have a huge Meditteranean cottage and herb garden here too which may be of interest to you given the similarities? The summers are just getting hotter down here, so everything has to be ultra hardy.
The Permaculture Research Institute just published an article with a short 5 minute time lapse video of 500 days of growth in the shady food forest here. The farm is located in a cool temperate region (it rarely gets below 0'C or 32'F) and will only snow maybe once or twice a year. It is fun to watch and I've added a bit of audio commentary. There is even a wallaby snacking on the herbage at point in the video:
I've been lurking and contributing here for a few years now and have also contributed plenty of articles to the permaculturenews website.
Well, there are over 300 fruit trees in two food forests here, herbs, vegetables, chickens and bees on 22 acres in the south eastern corner of Australia. I also built the house myself and am not connected to the electricity grid using only solar PV (with no generator).
About half a year ago, I committed to writing a weekly blog - with lots of cool photos - about living in and amongst a growing food forest.
Hi Giselle. No worries. The diversity in the fruit trees really does make a more overall reliable yield from year to year.
25 acres is a good amount for grazing. I have 22 here, but only about 4 to 5 are clear.
Your soil sounds like a complex mix of different materials. Lots of organic matter always helps sand (and / or clay) become more like a fertile loam. A local earthworks / excavator person may give really good advice if you are thinking about getting someone in to dig the swales. Don't put up with any rubbish from them though. The local guy who'd been working in the area for over 30 years here told me that the soil here would never hold a dam and it wasn't worth spending the money on it. After that I started looking around the area and sure enough he was spot on. All of the dams here work like swales! Still, people keep putting them in and they are just empty. Local knowledge is really important. A neighbour even brought in truck loads of bentonite clay to line their dam and the yabbies dug holes in the clay - and then it leaked... Still, the guy thought swales were a nutty idea, but he dug it properly on contour anyway.
Sounds like it will be quite the menagerie of animals at your place! I'm told that Dexter cattle are small, hardy and easy to work with - but have no first hand experience. A lot of people up this way have dorper sheep which are good because they moult rather than having to be sheared. Alpacas require a bit of toe, clipping and teeth (I think) maintenance but seem pretty hardy. They run pigs locally on the Joel Salatin method at Taranaki farm which is not too far from here.
You can buy truffle innoculated oak trees too. I think the fungus requires a more basic soil ph though than the property here which is acidic. With your sand you may just have that higher ph?
Neighbours with horses are great because you can trade manure (and maybe with some soiled bedding straw if they have a stable) for vegetables. It is a good swap. Get as much as you get your hands on. Horses won't graze where they goto the toilet so it requires constant maintenance or lots of paddocks to rotate the animals to.
How good does the lake sound. Well done on that purchase. Cattle require a reliable source of water over summer and with that much water...
Biodiversity in the grass is a good goal. Peter Andrews in his book "Back from the Brink" was describing the benefits of diverse pasturage for horses and cattle. The diversity will establish itself over time, once you reduce grazing pressures (and possibly spraying). I reckon there are about 60 varieties of plants in the herbage here. The animals love it and the place here is about the last place to turn from green to yellow every summer.
You are very lucky that your neighbour keeps bees as that will assist fruit set in your own plants. Good stuff.
Hi Giselle. Thanks for the nice comments about the soil and farm here. The top soil is about 20cm deep in some parts and probably averages about 15cm across the farm. When I bought the block 7 years ago, there was no top soil at all and rainfall used to literally run over the sun-baked clay which was as hard as concrete. Digging holes for the original fruit trees was a seriously hard task.
Not to scare you, but I reckon that I've probably brought onto the farm about 450 cubic metres of woody mulch, compost and rock dust during those years (mostly woody mulch). It sounds like a lot, but is actually only about 1 or 2 cubic metres per week and it all disappears into the top soil. Most of it is sourced from composted green waste collected by the councils from gardens in Melbourne. The deeper the top soil, the more water that your soil holds. It was all moved by hand too. A cubic metre just doesn't go very far.
Launceston has a great climate and you will find that you can grow pretty much the same sorts of plants that I grow here. If the cold air drains away from your property during winter and also assuming you are not in the bottom of a valley, then you will easily grow sub tropical fruit trees such as citrus and loquats. I'm experimenting with coffee shrubs, tea camellias, babaco, white sapote, macadamia nuts and plenty of other plants that are supposed to not grow here. I'm sorry, but I don't know of any suppliers of heritage plants around that northern area though. Have you thought about http://www.diggers.com.au/ (I'm a member and they provide great plants) as well as Strezlecki heritage apples? I recommend both suppliers. The lovely lady at Strezlecki heritage apple trees actually grafted up trees for me on the spot on very vigorous root stocks and those trees have been exceptional performers. The lady williams apple in the video was from that supplier.
As to the wildlife, the wombats, wallabies and kangaroos all have free access to the farm here. They convert the grass and herbage into manure, saving me the problem of mowing. Mowing is a once a year activity in December as a result (they can't keep up with the growth). The wallabies are the serious problem here as they will break young fruit trees. Those young fruit trees are all individually caged in a heavy gauge chicken wire (1.4mm). Once the trees are about 3m tall with a fairly large trunk, the wallabies can't seem to damage them, so I take off the cages at that point in time and they prune all of the lower branches keeping the walkways clear. It is a trial and error system which works more often than not. It has just taken a long time to understand all of the different interactions between the animals and work out how to get an advantage from that knowledge.
Bushfires are part of life. It is possible to reduce your properties risk, it is just a lot of hard work and there are a lot of competing viewpoints some of them have legal backing. I volunteered in the CFA (Country Fire Authority) for a few years so have seen all sorts of viewpoints on the subject, but tested by the realities of the local ecology. I try to observe what works and what doesn't work and then concentrate efforts on what does work. The CSIRO studies into the fires here during Ash Wednesday in 1983, indicated that a fires burnt particularly hot when the soils and vegetation were lacking in minerals. I bring in rock dust and spread it around as well as planting species that mine the soils for minerals (eg comfrey and borage)
So many great questions. I have a lot of different fruit trees because the climate can vary so much between each season. It is part of hedging my bets, in that I'm guaranteed to get some produce out of some of the fruit trees. Different seasons produce different outcomes. Very wet seasons promote citrus growth, but are hard on stone fruit for example. Pears, seem to be consistent from year to year, but different varieties of apples produce differently from year to year and so on.
No, I do not have woofers here. All of the work including building the house from scratch was done by myself and my lady. I occasionally open the farm up for a visit by some local groups that I'm involved with.
Hugelculture is a great idea, well done with your experiments. The trick here was starting the system in autumn so that the fungus can get to work in time and the plants roots can also establish before the summer. Other than that watering is a good idea during the hot and dry spells. Spring is probably a bit late unless you have access to water the system over summer?
Tassie is a beautiful place and well located to survive any future warming.
Hi Giselle. It's great to hear from another permie Down Under as you know what I mean about the crazy weather here.
Canberra is dry for sure. Hope you enjoy Tassie too. I spent a month there about a decade ago and really enjoyed the island. It is an amazing place. The east coast can be dry in some parts, but then really unbelievably wet in other parts like Mt Elephant. I read a few weeks back they received 248mm of rain in 24 hours there. I've experienced that over 5 days and it was seriously flooding in the valley down below here. The west coast of the island can receive over 3 metres of rain per year and I noticed last summer that even Strahan got to 38 degrees Celsius one day over summer!
I've read that in some parts of South Australia they also failed last season to get enough chilling hours (less than 7 degrees Celsius) for the fruit trees to set fruit properly. Some fruit trees require hundreds of chilling hours per winter, whilst others not so much. They also adapt to local conditions over time too. I reckon you'll be OK for that in Tasmania. The farm here is at about 700m above sea level so the climate is pretty similar to southern Tasmania, but the difference is getting less noticeable over summer as time goes on. The changes are not good at all.
On a positive note, you should be able to grow a wide variety of fruit trees on the east coast. There are some really good heritage fruit tree nurseries in Tasmania too and years back I spent a fun hour or two speaking with Bob Magnus at Woodbridge Nursery which is just south of Hobart: http://www.woodbridgefruittrees.com.au/wft/ They actually had the complete Australian collection of quince trees at one stage.
Thanks about the boarge and comfrey and just plant a couple of them for each fruit tree.
Just in case anyones forgotten about us permies Down Under, I just thought that I might remind people that it is only a few weeks out from the official start of winter. But, you wouldn't know it here. All year we've been breaking weather records and now just out of winter yet another couple are being broken:
Hi Michael. Thanks man. I leave water in various spots on the farm for all of the critters that live here. The summers can be hot and dry and the reliable water makes all of the difference to their lives. The local birds all fly in for a drink here and a cleansing bath during summer. There are other water sources set up for the frogs, bees, insects, wallabies, wombats and kangaroos. At night the farm is jumping with wildlife. You are absolutely correct in that I should have put the bee hive in the complete shade (hindsight is a wonderful thing). I'd never read anywhere before that the wax could melt in extreme conditions and my local bee contacts had never seen it before either. Further north (and much hotter again than here) things were much worse.
Hi Ludger. That's not a good situation. I'm happy to have the feral bees as they provide genetic diversity for future colonies. Regulation can be a bit too extreme here too - I've got some stories about that for sure. Fortunately, I live in a remote spot so have a bit more freedoms than other people.
Hi R Scott. Thanks for the suggestion and I'd read about the lemongrass oil. Interesting stuff. I've been watching most of the YouTube videos that I can about the subject. It is interesting that it isn't covered in the books that I've been reading.
Hi Cj Verde. Thanks for the link, I'll check it out. The forest here is evergreen and all of the older trees have hollows which I'd be pretty certain that the bees have set themselves up in. Unfortunately, some of those trees are well above 40m (120ft), so who knows where the bees went as they're still buzzing about the farm. If you check out the farm update link on the earlier comment, you'll see that in the first photo, the big tree to the right of the frame is well above 45m. It hasn't snowed here for 4 years now and winter temperatures just seem to keep increasing. It's not good. Some parts of Australia didn't get enough chilling hours for the fruit trees to set fruit properly.
Hi Bryant. You go dude, well done. There are over 300 fruit trees here and whilst there are native bees and wasps that will pollinate them, nothing beats the European honey bee for those services. Thanks for the advice.
Hi Ludger. Sorry an explanation is possibly in order as they didn't just leave their hive. The summer had a few daytime temperatures around 44.5C in the shade. Stupidly, I'd followed local advice and put the hives out in the full sun, which had worked fine in previous years. After three days of those sorts of temperatures (a bit of a record here - global warming). It became so hot the wax was melting in the hives. Lesson learned, put hives in the full or dappled shade here. The colony swarmed, leaving a couple of frames full of bees. I sought further advice as I'd never seen wax melt before and was told to feed the bees immediately as they would be weakened after recent swarming. As it was very hot, I didn't reduce the opening on the box and wouldn't you just know it, robber bees came and destroyed the weakened colonies to get at the sugar syrup.
Anyway, I've since started reading an enormous quantity of books on more natural and organic beekeeping methods and will start a top bar hive next Spring. There are plenty of bees and flowers for the entire year here, but them bees of mine have just gone feral...
Thanks for the link, I was just hoping to get some real world experiences with the swarm traps.
Hi Michael. I hope the explanation above assists. I'm a bit embarrassed about it really, because I'd read and been told that the bees could cope with moderating the hive temperature too. So, unlike the chickens (who are in the full shade) the bees were in the full sun. CCD is sort of unknown in Australia as it is the last continent without the varroa mite. It is in New Zealand, so it will get here eventually. There are traps at most of the ports and airports for just this situation, but no systems are perfect. Yeah, the bees didn't cope with the extreme daytime temperatures, so they absconded.
What is worse, is that so far all of the more natural, organic beekeeping books have advised to put the hives in the shade in these sorts of hot conditions. It's a hard way to learn through the loss of your colonies.
I lost my 3 hives here due to the stupid mistake of placing the boxes in the full sun. The last summer just past I had a record extreme heat of 10 days in excess of 40C (104F) - that's in the shade folks.
The hives didn't die, they just all packed up and left and are still happily flying about the farm landing on both me and the flowers (which are available for most days of the year).
Since then, I have been reading up several books on top bar hives and will shortly build a couple and place them in the dappled shade which I reckon the bees will like.
Has anyone got any specific instructions for setting up a swarm trap as I'd really like to not have to buy new colonies? I'd really appreciate any and all help.
Hi Giulianna. The title of this thread is just 100% too funny. Nice work.
You get out of these systems what you put into them. Clay + acidity + waterlogged sounds like it was originally a forest soil. Obviously, the forest is now well and truly long gone, but you want to plant some stuff in it (flowers, herbs, vegetables etc).
Simply add some organic matter to the surface. Add as much as you can find or obtain. You can never add too much. If you are happy with a slow process, then don't stress (or have a know it all brother in law scare you off) and simply let nature do its thing.
Then when you think you've added too much organic matter, add some more and start planting into the soil that you are creating.
If you only have a limited amount of time to spend on it, you just need to find a pace that suits you.
Does anyone here have any experience with a baited swarm trap and can provide some hints and tips for a novice beekeeper? I'm thinking of setting up some swarm traps so as to start up some new hives for next spring.
As a bit of background, there are feral European honey bees in my area. I'm Down Under so there is no varroa mite present and the feral colonies seem reasonably healthy and active.
Hi Michael. I'm not quite sure what you mean by beautiful, but I grow a lot of herbs here and they are slowly spreading into the food forest.
If you are after hardy low stress flowers, then I'd recommend:
- evening primrose which has prolific yellow flowers and is virtually indestructable;
- soap wort produces lots of flowers over summer too;
- yarrow produces flowers that remind me of carrot flowers;
- penny royal has a nice scent and produces purple-ish flowers;
- feverfew puts on a good show and again is indestructable;
- mints of all varieties produce masses of flowers;
I just remembered that a while back I wrote an article on this topic which has lots of photos with the plants named. Drop by and have a look, if you have any questions give me a yell!
drake schutt wrote:I forgot to mention that I'm a mushroom farmer, so I've got several tons of spent straw and sawdust/wheat bran substrate composting or ready to be composted.
Would old hay be useful as mulch, as long as it's been sitting for at least a year, maybe two? A lot of neighbors down here seem to roll hay and then just let it sit there.
Yeah go hard with all of it. I chuck everything here at the pasture / herbage and it all disappears. My only hesitation is the sawdust which I'd spread a bit more thinly than all of the others. It can be quite acidic and in a thick layer will take quite a long time to decompose. How about getting some of those mushroom spores into it?
The old hay would be excellent to get onto the surface in late winter / early spring. Depending on how cold it is in your area. It is forst free here, so anytime is good. However, sometimes top dressings in much colder areas can keep the sun off the soil and slow the warming up process.
However, as a suggestion, I would throw all of that hay into the chicken enclosure and let them, turn it, eat the seeds and manure into it and then apply it to the pasturage. If you want to speed the process of decomposition even further, then if you have a slasher or mulcher get into it and break up the hay into smaller components. It is like turbo charging nature because you've increased the surface area.
The winter rains here combined with milder temperatures, tend to make the rounds (rolled hay) ferment and sprout when they are left out in the elements. This can be desirable for some species of farm animal.
Hi Drake. No worries, give it a go. Tilling is something to be avoided in later years once your systems are established. There are good reasons for this. However, if you need to till, then by all means do it. I had a 20 tonne excavator deep rip about an acre here a few years back (and no till since, just chop and drop the herbage), and the results have been amazing. After the deep ripping, I applied - by hand - a thin mix of mulch / mushroom compost / worm castings (and some tea) and compost to the surface, some seed and didn't do anything else. In a just a few years the top soil is now at about 15cm (just shy of 6 inches) at that location when before it was like concrete. Please don't be put off!
The food forest here in a cool temperate environment in the mountains of South Eastern Australia is now about between 4 and 6 years old and it is growing quite nicely and starting to produce some good yields.
I've put a video together showing 122 days of growth this season in a 3 minute video clip. The fruit trees in the video are predominantly in the shady part of the food forest and are mostly Asian pears and apples. There are about 300 various fruit trees on the farm, plus herbs, vegetables, bees and chickens. All good fun.
Hello all. I use an electric 9 tonne wood splitter which is powered by my off grid solar power system. The logs here are local timber - messmate (eucalyptus obliqua) - and the timber is 650kg/m^3. This is one tough hardwood and the little splitter does the job easily and powered by the sun to boot. I wouldn't use a PTO powered splitter as it could seriously injure you. Regards. Chris
Hi there! Down Under the old timers used to use hedges of Hawthorn bushes. There are some really good ones established around here. They are about 3m to 4m tall (9ft to 12ft). Nothing can get through that plant once it is well established, plus the berries are of medicinal value. They also survive drought etc. Regards. Chris
The food forest here in a cool temperate environment in the mountains of South Eastern Australia is now about between 4 and 6 years old and it is growing quite nicely and starting to produce some good yields.
I've put a video together showing 50 days of growth this season in a 2 minute video clip. The fruit trees in the video are predominantly in the shady part of the food forest and are mostly Asian pears and apples. There are about 300 various fruit trees on the farm, plus herbs, vegetables, bees and chickens. All good fun.