where are we now?

We closed our demonstration space at 66 Cullen St, Nimbin some months ago. Once the site at 7 Sibley site had been confirmed as purchased, we decided to take a break, catch up on the home front (our own zone one!) & be fresh for future involvement with the community owned Sustainable Living Hub at Sibley Street. Although the community has raised some funds towards the purchase, we still have a way to go before it is paid in full & until then, not much development can progress, but the Nimbin community has done it before! (We collectively bought the old high school site- now our community centre, housing a childcare centre, aged care service, Aboriginal cultural centre, Nim FM our local radio station, the youth club, dance studio, Aquarius Foundation & more!) We invite the world to help us raise funds, for more info about the project …http://www.sevenonsibley.com/……….

Meanwhile, back at the farm, extra time at home has seen the garden expand. Some extra help from Chris’s team of weed eating goats has made huge dents in the lantana infested landscape.Much easier to clear after they’ve made holes in it!terracing the slopes Now I’m moving up the mountain!

Personally, I’m a fan of adventitious weeds. Native regrowth is of course preferred, but the reality is that after 100 years of land-clearing, burning off & overstocking of cattle, this property, like so many others, had no topsoil when I came here 20 years ago & any rainforest species I planted in the early days didn’t survive & the fruit trees are only now starting to come good. Evolution takes time. Being in one once place for long enough has allowed me to observe the succession of species. I decided early on to leave the steep slopes to themselves, while concentrating on eradicating the setaria grass (great for grazing but grows 2m high without) & building up garden areas close to the house. Meanwhile, the slopes (once bare & eroded) changed over time to grow first blady grass (tough as it comes & sharp!), then bracken, then crofton weed, then lantana & finally the pioneer trees Marangas & wattle. Now shaded, the lantana is thinner (although scrambling up the trees) & with more mature stabilizing growth I can now clear the lantana & plant native rainforest trees. The photo above right is a very steep area beginning to be cleared. Some marangas have been felled & left on contour with lantana sticks to create terraces (biomass) & then planted with taro, ginger & galangal (edible tubers suited to this climate). These plants on contour should prevent erosion, allowing leaf matter to build up & contribute to topsoil buildup over time.

Similarly, I have observed all manner of common garden weeds appear, only to be replaced with others as the soil chemistry has changed. I have always pulled weeds & left them where they lie (biomass, biomass) & collected flowering or seeding weeds in a bucket filled with water to rot & used subsequent brew as fertilizer. Soil homeopathics!

All the rain of the last year has motivated me to trench & terrace even more (Shane calls me the human tractor) The new ‘crop circle’ below left looks more like a water wheel in heavy rain, like some strange machine, the trenches channel water from one part to another (I dug most of it in heavy rain!) trenches crop circl garden

This area was planted to all sorts of things I hadn’t tried much before- flax (linseed), oats, wheat, garlic as well as the other winter stuff broccoli, garlic, onions, beetroot, broad beans & kale. Elsewhere I had lettuce, spinach, potatoes, snowpeas, shallots, chinese greens, cabbage & cauliflower. With strawberries & bananas & the last of the pumpkins I haven’t bought fresh food for months! Everyone complained about the endless rain but now it’s stopped, it’s too dry & getting hotter so most of the garden gets a rest & I retract back to a small area of well-fed raised gardens for greens where I can keep up the water in summer. The self seeding cherry tomatoes take over & until chilli pickin’ starts up, I’ll have my hands full keeping the grass down.IMAG1272

At right, the basket gardens ready for summer planting. The pond has styrofoam boxes planted with water chestnuts- just sprouting nicely now. Hopefully, they’ll reproduce enough to grow a much bigger crop next year to float on the dam. I usually grow mint & vietnamese mint in the pond too & use the water for emergency watering or even grow lettuce in floating boxes so they don’t wilt when it gets too hot.


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