Monday, July 11, 2011

One year reflection

On Tuesday 12 July, it will be twelve months since I reached my goal date of being in the King Valley. So how has the journey of the last year been? Where am I now? Where am I headed?

The last year has been a good journey. I lived part time in the King Valley for most of it, travelling up and down to Melbourne each week. I installed an irrigation system around the house, rejuvenated most of the garden beds around the house and had a great yield of mainly tomatoes, potato and pumpkin. The broken fence over the creek meant I didn't plant more than four fruit trees on the plot, as the cattle ate the lemon leaves. I also finished Certificate IV Small Business Management. I didn't however, commence any of the three businesses I planned to: a permaculture market garden, making chutney and sauce and selling Guatemalan textiles.

Where am I now? Mainly in Melbourne, still working part time and only going to the King Valley monthly. The commute became too much, plus I realised my best network was in Melbourne and was where I get my energy from. Though I do love being up at the farm. I'm still very much involved with the local permaculture movement, plus have begun promoting Landshare in Melbourne. If any groups are interested in sharing land or a backyard for gardening, I'm happy to come and speak.

Where am I headed? Of the three parts to the plot, I've decided to not sell sauce and chutney. I just love making it for my family and friends but don't really have a great desire to make it en masse. Selling textiles is also on the back burner: I would really need to partner with someone to make it happen.

So what of the permaculture market garden? I've discovered that I really like the social connection at work, so a rather solitary job as a farmer may not give me everything. However, I also realised I would like to run workshops. Eventually teach the Permaculture Design Certificate. So I am going to learn by doing, and find myself some land or multiple plots of land (using Landshare) in Melbourne for an urban market garden. My new long term goal is to be a permaculture teacher.

It's disappointing to not have some major concrete evidence of achieving any of my three parts to the plot. But I have learnt along the way and become clearer in what I want to do in life. My permaculture future is still central.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Winter planting of garlic

This afternoon I quickly planted some garlic in my Melbourne backyard: it is now or never! Most of them could have been planted over the last three months, but I didn't get around to it. Someone else told me their rule of thumb: plant on the shortest day and harvest on the longest day (winter and summer solstice). The winter solstice was only last week, so I popped them in at sundown and I hope some of them do well. I planted both Russian garlic (large, mild) and Italian white garlic (small, white and I assume stronger flavour). I also planted some shallots: can't remember when they were supposed to go in!

I'm currently eating my way through the pumpkin harvest: got 22 pumpkins from two plants! Very happy, especially as I was given the seeds and told they were zucchini! They look like Jap pumpkins.

The unusual zucchini - a pumpkin!
I also had two Delicata pumpkins - very cute. I cooked them and put butter and honey on them for a neighbourhood Autumn harvest.

Delicata pumpkin
In preparation of many years of prolific zucchini and pumpkin harvests, I've gone and bought a book which gives me 225 recipes on how to use them! The Classic Zucchini Cookbook. I'm sure I'll need both this and other books with an ingredient specific theme as I try and best accomadate abundance. As a permaculture principle says: catch and store energy. When you have something in abundance, make best use of it at the time and even store some of this energy for future needs (pumpkins are great at keeping for months).

I was given a cutting of sage from a friend during summer and I planted it at the farm: I believe a pineapple sage. Gorgeous red flowers. Now that I have both Simpson and Day's bird book and some good binoculars, I say it is probably the Eastern Spinebill which love to eat the nectar, hanging from the thing branches. Great to watch in Autumn. Am I becoming a twitcher? I can only hope.

Pineapple sage