Clara Florence

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since Apr 01, 2013
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Recent posts by Clara Florence

I know this is an old question but I'll answer it anyway. As far as I know unless you are building with a registered builder then you will not qualify. The government will not give you the grant for owner build. So pretty much the concept of cheap house is out if you want FHB grant.
6 years ago
I am looking at buying a 5 acre property. Half the property is a steep hill that flanks the entire length of the property. The other half is flat in a depression in the natural landscape, and stupidly that is where the house is sitting. This is a high rainfall area prone to floods. The house sits approximately dead centre of this flat water catchment area. So of course everytime the area gets moderate rain (often) sheets of water runs down the slope into the house yard. I would like idea's on channeling this water and then using it, although the property doesn't really need the extra water since it has a spring also. I thought of placing a pond in the front yard (approx 3/4 acre out the front of the house) to allow the water running off the hill to create a landscape feature and reservoir, with a spillway that runs into the dry creek bed on the other side of the property. But I'd also like to retain as much water as possible on the actual slope, to make that paddock more arable. Any thoughts? I can't measure the slope but my guess is that it's about 30 degrees in the steepest parts with a basin in the middle that currently has two large pine trees in it.
7 years ago

John Elliott wrote:

Clara Florence wrote:Wood chip will decompose too slowly to take up all the excess nitrogen.

I know that is the common wisdom, but the common wisdom was developed up in some northern climate. Here in the South, where the soil temperature rarely drops below 50F, wood chips decompose plenty fast and are quite good at problems of "excess" nitrogen.

But isnt the OP living in one of those Northern climates? She is in the UK, which I dont think has a warm humid subtropical zone. I live in the subtropics in the Southern Hemisphere, its very hot and humid here for much of the year but we find woodchips to be the least useful mulch for us. It really depends on your local conditions.
7 years ago
Wood chip will decompose too slowly to take up all the excess nitrogen. We use lucerne hay as our ground cover in the chicken pen but even that decomposes slowly compared to the build up of manure. Mind you we have a flock of over 30 chickens in an urban yard. I know its a stretch but would you ever consider swapping your chickens for quail given the amount of yard space you have? You could maintain quite a nice garden in the space you have with free ranging quail, although it will take more eggs to get an omellette.
7 years ago

Nas Mus wrote: My chickens free range in 700 sq ft of my garden. 11 chickens.

I like the idea of meadow mix, but I don't think it will last in this much space with 11 chickens unless I get certain types of seeds to withstand the chickens, but I don't know what.

Wild strawberry seems like a very feasible idea. If it holds out as well as you describe it may be just the thing. Do your chickens also eat the leaves, or just the berries and does eating a lot of red eat the colour of their yolk or anything?

It's really hard with chickens in a small space, as they tend to scratch everything even if they don't eat it. It's their natural habit to dig holes and have earth baths as well as scratch up plants to find bugs to eat.
I'm not sure what could withstand that part of chickens. We have chickens in our yard too and everything they've gotten into has been scratched up within hours resulting in bare earth. We initially wanted our chickens to free range the whole yard but they are just too destructive and we've had to relegate them to a coop with a few citrus trees in it. Good luck in finding something that works for you though.
7 years ago
You could also try...

Creeping thyme, stunning purple carpet of flowers in summer.
Mexican (pink) evening primrose, known to go berserk in terms of invasiveness, pretty pink flowers. Can't kill it apparently.
Sweet Alice (alyssum) is a great ground cover that I use as a living mulch, brings beneficial insects, grows by scattering seed easily. Not sure how much punishment it can take from the chickens though. But it doesn't seem to smother other plants it's growing with either. Readily self seeds, we've even had it spontaneously grow in a pot with a dead tree that's no where near the garden, pretty random.

Why not go for a meadow mix? It's taller than 4" but can provide lots in terms of green manure, chicken fodder and habitat for beneficial insects. You can chop and drop it and it will grow right back.
7 years ago
This is how most people think about gardens. If you don't have a patch of mown lawn with a border of annuals like me, it's unsightly. Of course, they could deal with it by bringing in some large earthmoving equipment on the weekend, dig all those hugels 2 ft deep so that they then have tada! Flat garden beds or only slightly raised ones. Mr Unsightly could then spend his weekend watching excavators and unable to listen to his TV. Life has been regulated to death, pretty soon they'll be restrictions on what varieties of veges you're 'allowed' to grow in your garden.
7 years ago

John Polk wrote:Borage is a wonderful plant.
If you are growing strawberries, plant borage amongst them - the 2 are supposed to help each other.

Thanks. We already created a peach guild down the back with strawberries and borage under the peach tree. The strawberries are in a raised bed so they wont steal nutrients from the peach tree and borage seed was scattered into the strawberry bed. So far we have 20 strawberry plants and 5 borage plants in that area. That peach tree is old and produces massive peaches but also has a hard time some years. This year we are not spraying with copper sulphate and instead are going to see how the peach guild works out. The area around the peach tree has been cleaned out to allow better airflow and more sunlight. It was previously overgrown with pumpkins which probably made the rust problem worse. It's now a really sunny warm spot, here's hoping.
7 years ago
I started working my garden 6 months ago and went out and bought a lot of seed, carefully raised seedlings for the polycultures and hoped that they would self-seed there after. Our Borage has just finished flowering (early spring here) and has been madly dropping seed everywhere into the garden beds. I retrenched this bed by putting more organic matter into the soil at about a foot deep and raking the soil back over the top. We have heavy clay so it takes years to loosen it up and compacts very easy. I only break up the aggregates by hand into smaller ones and till as little as possible. I then mulched these beds and put a new crop into it, perennial kang kong and some excess capsicum seedlings we had. This morning I went out to check on the progress and discovered borage seedlings popping up everywhere! My first lot of self seeded plants. There are too many for just this bed so I will be thinning them out and transplanting the excess to the new beds we've just established to provide shade, pollination help and improve the terrible soil in this new area. I love this plant, it turned our yard into a bee highway at the end of winter and we intend to help the local bee population out more with this 2nd generation.Everywhere it was planted the soil was much better, and since I've been digging the spent plants back into the ground hopefully the nutrients will all go back too.
7 years ago

Kristy and Kai Cameron wrote:

That said we have recently come to the idea of using 4 old cast iron baths salvaged from freeby sites nearby all lined up and plumbed as a Greywater system to irrigate our "work in progress" permaculture garden (we think we will be going with swales on contour). Does anyone on here have any good info on projects they have done which are similar so we can avoild making costly mistakes (yes we are pretty povo but happily so)...

We havent set up our water gardens as greywater systems specifically. But they are good water conservators and filtration systems just as they are. Our water gardens are growing water chestnuts in them. And also some floating water weeds, duckweed, frogbit and azolla. The floati g water weeds grow very quickly into a dense mat that prevents wate evaporation but still always rain water to be caught in the system. When I was researching I discovered that duck weed is already used in sewerage treatment plants in SE Qld. Apparently it is so good at filtering toxins that they have built large ponds where treated swearage is pumped in order to be filtered and released back into the environment. Our water gardens are standing tubs where the water has been sitting for half a year without being changed. I have drunk some of this water and it is clean and pure. Plants that grow well in water gardens include....

Water chestnut
Calla lily
Swamp iris
Kang kong
Water hyacinth - thisis a noxious weed, do not let it into the environment if you use it.

Floating weeds - duckweed, frogbit, azolla

We started our water gardens with a tiny bit if the floating weeds purchased for $5, They filled 3 large tubs in a matter of weeks. We also realised that our local cow paddocks are filled with azolla and we could have gotten it for free. Water gardens are cery simple, we just tossed aout 4" of soil in the bottom of the tubs, filled with water and threwinthe plants. They are a haven for the local frogs also.
7 years ago