Ben Waimata

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since Jun 11, 2017
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Organic farmer, orchardist and forester.
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Recent posts by Ben Waimata

I visited a guy years ago who had an open-ended high tunnel used to produce fruit trees, in the middle of the structure there was a little greenhouse in which he had fruiting potted papaya and mango trees. The high tunnel was a lot warmer than ambient during the day, but cooled down to ambient at night, while the little greenhouse did not get any hotter than the big high tunnel during the day, but retained heat surprisingly well at night in winter.  This is in mild temperate New Zealand climate where the extreme air temperature low for the year is probably around 34F so results might be less effective in continental climates.
2 years ago
Any chance you overcooked it? Wild rabbit around here can be very good.
3 years ago
You're not making compost tea this method, more like an anaerobic sludge... but it still works!  There are usable nutrients extracted from the decaying organic matter within 48 hours of first soaking it, I would not worry about timing, just do it, and bung in anything organic matter that's lying around. If you've got a patch of pristine native bush anywhere near go and grab some forest mulch and bung it in to your tank for extra indigenous microbes.  It's the equivalent of how nature lets organic matter die on the surface, then the breaking down nutrients are washed into the soil profile by rain etc, you're just shortcutting the process.   If you have a watering system you could consider setting up a venturi or similar directly into the tank and take some liquid out every time you water. Turn your weeds into an asset.

Very dry here this year, about 20% of usual rainfall to date. The kikuyu still looks lush and growing well while the temperate grasses are brown and inactive. This is an underappreciated grass.
4 years ago
Kikuyu is great out in the pasture in a dry summer, but I agree, not so great in the garden! I'm in the same situation, it's growing under/through my citrus trees.  ON the bright side, kikuyu is a great plant for building soil organic matter and fertility... you can see where I'm going with that comment! I don't think eradicating it is viable, any piece of root left will grow. I suggest outcompeting it. Heavy mulching helps, sure the rhizomes grow under the  mulch and you feed the kikuyu well, but it is slowed down enough that the tree usually gets going too. If you have water for the tree, all the better. Pulling up the grass and fermenting it in water then using it as a fertilizer seems to make the tree grow well too. Kikuyu has deep roots and reasonably good levels of macros like N., and some TE. Eventually you can shade kikuyu out, but this will also shade the fruit trees. Unfortunately my experience is learn to live with it. Even the chemical people find it hard to control with spraying.  

My climate is very similar to Orbost, I find kikuyu slows down enough this time of year that it's benefits ultimately outweigh it's disadvantages.
4 years ago

Asa Dachi wrote:@Ben: not sure which part of New Zealand, but I think chestnuts and hazels could work there. How's the hunting there?

Does this answer your question? There were 12 more in the next valley, all in my backyard.

4 years ago
These discussions are great, but at the same time show up our geographic differences. I'm in a temperate climate but have very different environment to work with, and different climatic variables. Probably the only similarities are daylight hours, and feral deer.

My food forest looks different;

4 years ago
What state are you in Graham?

I recall having a discussion with a farmer inland from Adelaide, we were comparing our farming styles/systems. He mentioned he farms in a 10"rainfall area, and when it rains, he usually gets 15-18"at a time. Made me think for a while, then realise how well off we are even in dry parts of NZ!

You can get a functional permaculture ecosystem in any site anywhere in the world, subject to location.  In other words yes you can do it, but don't expect it to look like a permaculture system in Cairns, or Hobart, Or Perth. My only farming experience in Australia was in coastal NE NSW, even with the 80"rainfall moisture stress could be extreme with the high evapotranspiration rates... of course bananas are not a crop you will be looking at. Your site will be challenging, all depends on what you actually want to achieve.
4 years ago
Possibly a good time for some life lessons perhaps? Everything has it's time and place, death and decay is as much a part of the process as is the life we cherish. Everything we do has both positive and negative impacts on the world around us, both are equally valuable lessons to learn.
4 years ago
Digging a shallow pit to grow your trees in can make a huge difference, but only if the tree in question can handle wet roots in a wet season. I've grown some tropical rainforest palms that need high rainfall this way in my much cooler, much drier climate. Digging a shallow pit right out to the eventual dripline (make sure you put all the topsoil back) and deep mulch will have the same effect as significantly higher rainfall.
4 years ago
Whatever you do do NOT plant comfrey seeds! The seeding strains can grow everywhere, and can easily become a serious weed. The sterile strains can still be a weed, but at least they tend to stay where you plant them.

Personally I believe comfrey is very over-rated. Lots of stories about how deep rooting it is, but I planted heaps and a couple years later digging it up I found very few roots deeper than 1 foot, in a light free draining soil where even shallow rooted plants like ryegrass can often have roots 4-5' deep. I planted it as a living mulch under avocado and cherimoya trees, but most of it is gone now. Interesting plant, but does it deserve the hype? Maybe for some areas, but the strain I have (recommended to me as the best) in my soil/climate... not a huge asset in my opinion. YMMV.
4 years ago