Sunday, June 20, 2010


Momster Pumpkin growing between
precious young Moringa trees
I learned some important lessons this last season.

I had a favourite pumpkin go rotten before I had a chance to even cut into it. Desiring not to waste it, I hauled this mess into my new Food Forest bed, and just squished it all into the soil. The resultant plants were magnificent and like some welcome monster it grew and grew from one bed to another until it reached beyond and onto the lawn by the wash lines. In my exuberance at its splendour I had no heart to cut it back in any way; I was too curious to see how big it could really grow, little thought being given to what I would do with hundreds of pumpkins. That proved of little consequence anyway. The Vervet Monkeys thought it all a splendid experiment too and feasted first on the blooms, then on the tiny fruit and then on the larger pumpkins later. They have the advantage over me; I like to wait for it to mature and ripen before considering it food. Ah, well. I need dogs again.

Dogs require fencing to keep them separate from potentially unhappy neighbours. I have hit on a marvelous plan to get me some fencing up. I am going to do a living fence. Right within my price bracket…!

Beautiful and useful Honeysuckle
I plan to use the berries of the Chinaberry planted along the border of my Food Forest and let my fence poles grow in place. When each trunk is thick and strong I will pollard them off at perhaps 2-3 meters. The wood makes excellent firewood so the loppings and prunings will be useful. I will then weave honeysuckle between to make a living fence. Honeysuckle is so pretty and fragrant and is animal fodder too. It grows like a weed here.

We are leaving autumn and going into winter and so I will have plenty of Chinaberry seeds available shortly.

PS: I have just learned that monkeys can be chased away by hanging CDs around where they frequent. They move in the wind and the light catching them is supposed to frighten them off. Willing to give it a go! Won’t that be a hoot if something so simple does the job!

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I have this dream so big in my soul that sometimes when I talk of it to people they want to come and see. I have learned to explain that my dream is still a work in progress : ) That it is not yet complete.

I run at it full tilt, and am sometimes sharply slapped down by unexpected disappointment. I have learned that there is no more uncompromising teacher than God, the Creator, and His creation. His lessons fill my life inexorably and patiently; and I have come to love it - after I have survived the disappointment; for every part of every lesson acts as a mirror to my soul. I have fancied myself so humble, till humbled by this world that is so unsusceptible to persuasion. I have fancied myself so deserving, until disappointment asked for courage and endurance instead. And I have laughed so big inside over large gifts in tiny parcels; like a precious plant that has managed to survive despite the odds, or a seed that germinates when I have been told it never would. Then I know I have been kissed by a Father so loving that He wants to show me He is watching, and that He is loving my loving too.

Getting my Food Forest structured and in place has stretched me to my physical limits some days. And the pace, so slowly matching the growing vision, can threaten discouragement when tired. I have learned not to assess anything when tired. I will usually have a very skewed perspective. And when, after a long season, I learn that I have made many mistakes, then it is easy to think that my life is doing more unraveling than progress made. How long it seems to take for me to learn. And then how long it takes for me to apply what I have learned.

But strangely, it is only when everything seems to be falling apart that I learn that He is still holding it all together. Who was I fooling in thinking I was keeping anything together anyway? Humbled in soul at majestic magnificence in detail and abundance I have been reduced down to size and found in it the secret to unlocking many treasures.  Step by step and day by day of learning and doing can accumulate into joyous results. 

And in all the struggles I have discovered that the journey is as important as those joyous results.

Until next time,

Saturday, May 8, 2010


The Forest has to be, for me, the quintessential pattern of ecological success. Let it give some space to a wetland and the fringes giving support to various grains, and it is complete. But it is the multi-storey functionality of a forest that really fascinates me.

In a forest every part of the soil is covered; plants easily stretching out and up in rich variety with leaf and bark litter settled between - nothing is left bare and vulnerable. Wind, rain and sun are moderated by the different layers of canopy and ground-cover, giving protection to the soil and assisting a constant regeneration of new life on the forest floor. A multitude of micro-climates give full sanctuary to all the dynamics of plant, animal and insect life. Billions of organisms that we do not even begin to fully appreciate thrive in this productive medium, giving and taking in ways we can never hope to reproduce artificially.

Alive and clean. Who has not walked a forest floor and deeply breathed tof he living freshness? And we can go back year on year and see this living organism sustaining macro and micro systems from enormous reserves patiently built up over time. I go with eyes and heart wide open to see and learn.

A forest, untouched, spans the years from childhood to old age. It brings continuity and quiet sanity. Everything is used and recycled; there is no toxic waste-dump. It brings forth life from death, and maintains equilibrium of macro and microcosms that never get out of balance if left alone. And should an invader try to move in, the compound cycles of life within this giant organism envelope and smother it, unless it is able to find some small niche and enter into the equilibrium.

This is a living tapestry. The rustle of the leaves, the birds in joyous background cacophony, and a quietness loud with jubilant busyness. Does the peace not pour into every empty part of your soul? In your growing stillness do you not become more alive? Do your eyes begin to see more, and your ears begin to hear more? Aaah…... this is Goodness on display. This is a handiwork that gives the heart pause to sit in awe and renewal.

It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Everything that a forest offers I want to build on my land. It contains all that a mature eco-system can offer. The basic structure I can give, but I know that Father God has added the rest; it cannot but bring forth the life He originally spoke into it. I know He loves when I see His untouched handiwork.

Until next time,

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


When driving through immaculate suburbia, it is impossible not to notice the pocket gardens of clipped and edged lawns bordered with pretty little annuals in tasteful splodges of colour. Occasionally you may see a tree, and even here and there be surprised by a hedge, sadly boxed into a shape that screams out madness against the vigour and fecundity that nature so generously seeks to give. Call in the landscape artist to tame your outdoor living space, and should you find that the rigorous effort to maintain this state of uniformity is generally managed by degrees of drudge, then this job can be offloaded on a garden service doing its weekly rounds. I have to ask: What is the point? Lay out some plastic lawn and be done with it.

What am I seeing? Ecologically I am looking at a piece of earth constantly kept at a juvenile stage. Pioneering weeds keep trying to bring in bio-diversity as they attempt to endlessly fill the earth that stretches brown and neatly cultivated from one plant to another. They are ripped out each week to start over and over again in an attempt to cover that naked and hurting soil. It is an endless battle; a battle between natural processes and the “Owner”. Neither ever wins in this contest, unless said owner moves on and no duplicate replacement moves in.  And then most would think the battle lost, for it has been lost to nature.

I have seen some who love to pour their time and effort into these ecologically immature creations. I understand this. There was a time I was just so. Everything nature would provide for free I tried to give with love and tending. And each year the season would end and the garden would die. How I exhausted myself with such unsatisfactory returns on my time. I had to notice that where I loved to walk in natural settings there had been no such "love and tending", and yet I sensed in these wild wonderlands a response from the very core of my soul that time and so much effort had failed to replicate. These tamed arrangements bring a tamed response. There are  no surprises, or special gifts or discoveries.

Instead of fighting this pointless battle, we can rather enlist the help of nature, and even encourage accelerated succession toward a more rapid maturity. A mature garden needs little tending. It can be beautiful too; but with a beauty that is blessed by  the magnificent bounty of a generous dynamic we call Mother Nature.  A misnomer - it is Father God. And in all this abundance most of the work entails harvesting, or cutting back vigorous growth to be used for mulch, compost or even free animal feed. 

Where the dominant plants in an immature system are annuals, the governing plants in a mature system are perennial. In this progression from one to the other, bio-systems become more complex, organic matter builds up, and the ecology diversifies into an inter-related and exponentially developing synergy that gives back more than the sum of its individual parts. We need to increase the pace of succession until a balance is realized in which the contest is replaced by a pleasing serendipity of discovery and enjoyment. We share in what nature is so good at doing without the drudge. Plant perennials in many and varied textures, shapes, heights and colours, along with those pretty self-seeding annuals between, and watch nature move in and smile a bounteous thank you for letting her get on with the job. 

Wisdom brings maturity and rest.

Until next time,

Friday, April 16, 2010


When taking a broad scale overview on how to start out establishing this miracle of farming sustainability - the Food Forest – those first chosen plants are important considerations.

I started with Moringa and Mulberry as priorities on my list, amongst the usual orchard trees. I have already posted my reasons in earlier posts; the main being food and fodder. The Mulberries pop up here like weeds and are encouraged. The Moringa was carefully and lovingly introduced.

I would call my Food Forest more of a backyard design than an extensive open range forest. Richard Hart, when interviewed, suggested that to start a Food Forest you only have need to take Overstory fruit tree species and plant them with the usual required 20 foot distance apart. Then to take more shade tolerant trees and plant them between, with shrubs such as berry bushes snuck in between all these, and level by level work down to ground and root crop level. Climbers and creepers could be placed as best suited too, probably up against the highest trees. This has given him a very successful Food Forest, and greatly aids us in understanding how really simple it all can be.

In a backyard design certain little personal tweaks can by used in an attempt to maximize all that the location has to offer. I have a river of water below that I will be using, and so am well on my way to building little reservoirs below my pathways for underground irrigation; a little “tweak” that is expensive in terms of labour and time initially, but will pay off handsomely later with a forest of thirsty plants above. No evaporation of a precious resource when delivered. This is over and above all other water harvesting techniques I hope to employ.

I also have an abundance of boulders, rocks and stones here. If I was asked what it is that I farmed, I could easily reply: Rocks! I have certainly enjoyed harvesting them for multiple uses. And the sifted soil is returned between layers of bio-mass and manure into raised beds for planting.

What do you have in your hand? Use it! Use it in step with nature and her end design, and join me in marching alongside with pure enjoyment........... : )

Until next time,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


When we look at a piece of degraded and bare earth, it looks like a wounded gash in the green mantle that the Earth dresses herself with. 

I always marvel at how quickly this is colonized by rapid growing pioneer plants. We call them weeds. And most traditional gardening is wrapped around how to prevent their presence in the neat brown spacing between prized plants. They are seen as messy and unwelcome, but are, in fact, an essential start to the healing and restoration of the land. They rapidly cover the nakedness of the earth, thus protecting from erosion the life of the soil as they draw up nutrients, sometimes from great depths, to the top, and distribute this wealth in the form of leaf litter. They also act as nurses for more enduring herbs, shrubs and baby trees by creating a protective niche for the next stage of succession; one plant succeeds another in ever growing size and longevity.

The Earth is constantly marching toward productivity; she is obeying the original instruction to produce after her own kind – once given and forever obeyed. There seems to be nothing she does not seem to want to break down and use for more productivity; even that neglected and rusted garden gate, or forgotten pile of discarded bricks. And the march is toward forest bio-diversity or wet-land abundance. There is no holding her back. Step in line or be worn down by her persistent endurance; each niche set to creating succession and increased bio-diversity.

I have chosen to step in line and watch and learn. It is a wonderful movement of glorious life demonstrated in over-correction and modification in a determined attempt to bring order out of functional chaos. Watch her cover the land, and then reach for the skies with larger and stronger plants, to cover our Earth in generous abundance. Slowly and incrementally “wonderful” unfolds. Have we the eyes to see these wonders?

Until next time,


Friday, April 9, 2010


I have always been fascinated by the concept of Companion Planting. Plant the carrot with the onion to repel the onion fly, and the onion with the carrot to repel the carrot fly; such a neat and tidy arrangement on a page as you read it. I even went so far as to design on a clean new page the best way to place all the plants I wanted to effect such benefit. It became very complicated because some books listed certain plants as good companions, but in others this was contradicted. And the only plants discussed were herbs and vegetables. My great interest of the moment is Food Forest Design, and so naturally I got to thinking about how this would work in a Forest Garden; particularly a Food Forest Garden. Here we are looking at a multi-storey design from top-story trees down to root crops, and this is where the challenge comes.

There seems to be a common struggle in trying to understand the concept of actually starting a Food Forest. Talk of the bio-diversity, multi-level guilds, sustainability, succession and ecology of a Food Forest and before too long you get quite a few nodding heads; but talk of actually going out there on your own piece of land and doing it, and all the theory makes the task seem too daunting to start.

Let me make a suggestion: Ask a few simple questions. Why do you want a Food Forest? What do you want to grow in your Food Forest? Food! Naturally! But what kind of food, and for whom? Is there livestock and wildlife you also want to cater for? When thinking of wildlife, would this include beneficial birds and insects too? Do you want your Forest to offer more than food? Perhaps you need a windbreak or frost barrier? Perhaps wildcrafting really interests you? Perhaps even an area drenched in fragrance that affords sanctuary from the crazy demands of this world. Brainstorm such ideas in order to surface what you hope to achieve.

When you have a good idea of where you want to go, simply ask yourself: What goes with what, and why? If you do this plant by plant it becomes less complicated. It’s all about relationships anyway, isn’t it?

Until next time,

Monday, March 29, 2010


The popular trend seems to be to favour indigenous plants and tearing out all exotics. There is almost a superior sense of righteousness expressed to those lower mortals who do not give over their land completely to this worthy cause. I find it sadly short-sighted. I understand that the motivation is to help the earth, but little is really achieved toward such an admirable goal.

I ask myself: This all sounds pretty good in casual social banter, but is this truly ecologically sound? A landscape filled with wild plants that give no human food makes the landowner dependant on the farmer who has no such ideals of natural and indigenous planting. If we are not feeding ourselves as much as possible we are feeding into a system of agri-business that is destroying land and soil structure in rapacious greed that balances inputs and outputs with short-term cash flow objectives alone. We could always buy from the organic market, it is said. But how many do? Personally, the travelling involved rather defeats the purpose.

How many locally indigenous plants will feed us? We are most often fed by exotics. We need to expand our vision to a wider perspective: How do we reduce pressure on planet wellness?

I believe we should create natural habitats tweaked with enough exotics as food for the landowner to sustain himself as far as possible. If enough people do this it will reduce the demand on agri-business products and thereby decrease land for this kind of use. This now is something to feel good about. A feel good that is more sensible in terms of effective return.

I often hear it said that exotics just take over. In an ecologically balanced environment they do not. They take hold where land has been disturbed and new sun-filled edge created, and where nature strives to use pioneer plants to cover the bare earth as fast as possible. Nature will use whatever is available; whatever will grow fastest without deterrents. These will be exotics if the seed bank of the soil has such seed available. There are not the usual checks and balances in terms of pests, etc. to keep such plants in check. Get ahead in the game and plant - in co-operation with nature - a mix of plantings that are not invasive but will crowd out weeds and exotics, and you will watch with each succession more and more balance returned to the disturbed landscape. The key is balance: increase yield while preserving natural habitat by creating a landscape that works just the way nature does.

Plant exotics that feed us, within a diversity of multi-level natives, and you will have created something that is truly adding wellness to the earth; you will be partaking in the age old joy of abundant food produced with care and understanding.

Until next time,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Back in August I wrote about this miracle tree, the Moringa. I am designing my Food Forest largely around this tree, among others.

Moringa seeds do not need sunlight for germination. I soaked my seeds for 24 hours and then placed them in nursery bags where daily watering was easy. They are drought resistant when mature but thirsty when young. They should surface between 1 to 2 weeks. I have had some come up even later than that, when I thought no more would come up. I placed the bags in good light under some trees to shade the young trees. They love sunlight but at this stage need protection from scorching heat.

Instead of planting straight off into nursery bags you could place the soaked seeds in a clear plastic bag and store in a warm dark place, like a drawer. This way you can see those that have germinated and those that have not. The see-through plastic will enable you to do this without disturbing moisture levels in the bag. They are viable for a year and have no dormant period, so unless you have old seed you should have a good percentage germinate. Add no extra water when doing this, but check them daily for sprouting. Once sprouted it is easy enough to see which side of the sprout is leaf by the little ruffles. Care needs to be taken not to damage them as they are very fragile at this stage. Plant them in nursery bags one and a half centimeters beneath soil surface. Use the best quality potting soil. They will break surface very quickly. This last time around I lost some at this early stage of growth because bugs find them tasty morsels. In future I will guard against this by placing cardboard tubes over the young seedling breaking ground, and see if this helps.

Plant out at about 8 weeks. This must be done with great care because they hate having their roots disturbed. Should roots tear in the transplanting it can set the tree back some time, or even kill it. Never water just before breaking the bag to plant. Guess how I know this..... This will almost guarantee soil falling away and tearing off roots. Now I leave off watering the day before transplanting - to tighten the soil - and only water for that day when transplanted. I have planted mine in beds built with the lasagna style of layering: Browns, greens, manure and soil in layers, with enough soil on top. Do not put the manure right near the roots after planting; let them establish and mine for it. This is basically like planting them in a compost heap and those grown this way get a head start way ahead of those just planted in the ground. Ensure they get the maximum sunlight you can give them when planting out.

You can plant them out to accomodate full tree size about 3 meters apart, or plant them closer should you be planning on cropping consistantly for leaves. One thing that is important to mention is that they naturally shoot up to as high as 12 meters, and then you just wave goodbye to those precious leaves ...... unless you know how to climb trees as well as the monkeys. : ) You can of course salvage this situation by pollarding [this is merely cutting back at a desired height and allowing shoots to grow]. Coppicing [cutting back at ground level] will give you a very low growing bush. This is not an attractive tree and so more suitable for commercial enterprises. To tame the rapid upward thrust I pinch off the growing tip when they get to about 60cm in height . The pic above is at the right height to start doing this. The tip is so tender you can just use your fingers. This will ensure that the tree branches off and bushes out instead of shooting up. I then further encourage this by harvesting off branches after the second set of leaves on each branch - cut back to about 20cm long. This can be done up to 4 times to keep increasing bushy-ness. Stop then to allow for flowering.

Another way to get trees started is by using hardwood cuttings that are about half a meter to one and a half meters long. These can be planted directly in sandy soil with about one third buried. This is a good way to get many new trees, but the down-side, I have heard, is that they are more easliy uprooted in a storm due to the inferior root development.

Happy growing! : )

Until next time,

Monday, March 15, 2010


I watched the movie "Far and Away" again with Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, and even second time around felt the thrill of the great pioneering age of laying claim to land and building that homesteading dream. The possibilities are imagined as endless and idyllic.

Real life carried on after the movie.... and I got to thinking about what life must have really been like out there on those lonely plains. No internet to cruise, no happy-making movie to watch. And no-one to talk to all day for most of them - men or women. The workload would have been exhausting as pushed by the demands of each season. It took great courage to face that aloneness, I think, and still keep the dream alive. When children came the demands would have grown at first as each new-comer made its own demands. But as the family grew each member would have had an increasingly important role to play. The family would have become closely knit in the common struggle to make a living. Honour and character had meaning and value back then.

Were they self-sufficient? They had to be, or they would not survive. But is it possible today? Would our mindset accept the many limitations imposed by producing everything for ourselves? Do we have the same scope for success in such a goal in this age, or is it a myth?

Personally, I think it a myth in today's world for most. We do not have the huge range to go and hunt our meat. We do not have the freedom to make the choice to do so even should we be near such wild abundance, nor even every choice we might want on our own land. Every part of life is regulated in order to be taxed and re-taxed. We would have to fall off the grid as a person and go and live in one of the remaining wildernesses. I have read some interesting books by some who have done just that for a while. The loneliness was a real enemy to be faced, especially when snowed into a tiny cabin with only a dog, beloved and faithful though he be, as company.

But that all said, I still believe a shift toward self-sustainability - no matter how partial - is a wonderfully enriching experience. And if done in community, then the increase in benefits is exponential. Skills and produce can be shared or bartered. People can become valuable and appreciated again; from the youngest to the oldest. Society could heal its wounds slowly and surely. Could I give up the advantages of our techno age? Nope. And why should I? It can be incorporated into the dream. We would not be sharing ideas right now without it!

Just some thoughts...

Until next time,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I have a border running cross contour up the hill with my neighbour at a gentle angle. I want to fence it ..... and have been pondering how to effect a living fence but still harvest downhill rain water while accomodating the water pipes along this border that carry our water to the house. (One thing I must add is underground is bedrock at different rising levels so need to get the land flat as it slopes down for the pipes to lie well.)

This is what I have come up with:

Dig pits along the upward sloping border to trap rain water coming down hill. This is off contour and so I need to dig intermittent pits and not swales.

Fill with rocks until flat. This should also hold the water long enough to sink into the earth.

Lay house water supply pipework flat on top.

Cover with serpentine shaped Talus (pile of rocks sloped as a mound) wall - the wider and higher I can manage the better. This will look like a serpentine wall climbing up the slope at a +/- 30 degree angle. This will collect dew, act as windbreak, protect pipes from extremes of temperature, create microclimates in the curves, and give edge. The one negative I am trying to think through is if a pipe should leak somewhere I need easy access. Might have to buy really long strips of new pipe to lay this way and then where it joins... the point it gives in season changes due to expansion and contraction..... have an easy access point. The hope is that this talus wall covering the pipes will protect from all extremes of temperature anyway - but I would rather prepare in case.

I have seen Chinaberry grow through piles of rock and so could probably get them to grow at the top of the talus wall... They are pest resistant and I have tons of seed so an easy choice - thus turning a pest into a blessing. Once they achieve a good thick post height I will pollard them off and rub salt into the cut in hopes of preventing further growth.

The plan is then to grow honeysuckle, which grows like a weed here, in between and weave into a living fence on top. The trimmings are good fodder. To get the honeysuckle to grow I might have to offer the rootings a bit of soil base laid over some thick mulch. I don't want to build the living fence inside of this whole talus wall because it will block off the micro-climates created in the curves. On the back side will be well shaded and watered and on the front a warm micro-climate. A lovely thick living wall.... well that is the plan anyway!

Until next time,

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


This topic came up recently in a Permaculture discussion. An interesting conundrum.......

Previously I quoted something Bill Mollison said in one of his design courses:

“We should not confuse order and tidiness. Tidiness is something that happens when you have frontal brain damage. You get very tidy. Tidiness is symptomatic of brain damage. Creativity, on the other hand, is symptomatic of a fairly whole brain, and is usually a disordered affair. The tolerance for disorder is one of the very few healthy signs in life. If you can tolerate disorder you are probably healthy. Creativity is seldom tidy.

Tidiness is like the painting of that straight up and down American with his fork and his straight rows. The British garden is a sign of extraordinary tidiness and functional disorder. You can measure it easily, but it doesn’t yield much. What we want is creative disorder. I repeat, it is not the number of elements in a system that is important, but the degree of functional organization of those elements – beneficial functions.”

[Bill Mollison: Transcript for a Permaculture Design Course.]

I am very creative and so this really tickled me. I know some people so bound-up in the need for showpiece tidiness that they are only kidding themselves that they are creative. Our modern hyper-tidiness cannot produce creative abundance. Same with natural systems: Functional order in natural systems can look chaotic. But regimental tidyness - regimental visual order - is chaotic functionally. In terms of abundant human creativity it is death.

Question: Which do you want? Lots of rows of tidy plants gasping out an existence in neatly weeded bare earth? Or a mass of happy low-effort productivity? These two ideas are mutually exclusive.

When we have a diversity of plantings together they take care of each other. Different root depths ensure minimised competition. Some plants bring up what others need and give it later in leaf fall. Some need shade, some don't. Easy to see where this goes. Synergism with the many integrations producing beyond your wildest dreams.

I must admit to having had a bit of fun with this quote. I know he sounds a bit rough, but I had some things happen that brought it into clear focus. He is misunderstood as advocating untidiness. That is functionally disorganised too! But this extreme hyper-tidyness - an extreme kind of perfectionism and control - that seems to create a need to regiment everything into straight lines and perfect "order" kills synergy.... and creativity too! :-) And what do you have left? Monoculture rows of plants propped up with chemicals and poisons to produce on a diminishing return. And no special happenings in enthusiastic synergism. A bit nuts in my view.

Until next time,


Saturday, January 9, 2010


Bless the flowers and the weeds, my birds and bees.

I used to hate the way the Chinaberry just popped up everywhere, but now I just think of it as a wonderful source of bio-mass. A year ago I think I would be amazed that I would actually be happy to see a Chinaberry coppicing.

I cut it down now and it goes into the beds I am structuring. I layer different sources of bio-mass lasagna-style to build up the bed. I use the Chinberry as part of the greens, and also as mulch on top when needed. Those that have been chopped down seem to coppice so readily that they are an endless supply.

I read that Bill Mollison said that in order to completely destroy a tree you are to use road salt... I assume this means coarse salt... at the cut, and then cover with an old carpet to block out the light. I would need a lot of old carpet! But I will have to make a plan like this, in time, as I settle areas down to Food forest. For now they serve a welcome purpose. Everything that grows rampantly in this rainy season is used like this - if not specifically purposed to be there.

I have found that the Mulberry tree bouces
back very readily too; a real blessing. Such a useful tree. And the long leafy stems make wonderful fish food for my Tilapia. I will probably cut back a number of Moringa too to create coppiced limbs and increase forage for the animals when I get them.

I found sad littl
e sticks of Purslane down near the river and brought them into the Food forest too. Now they are the best looking Purslane I have ever seen! Large leafed and a good 40cm high. They have become forage food to me. I love nibbling on the leaves. It feels so good to reach out and pluck one leaf after another to eat. They are one of nature's richest sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. Perfect to add to salads. I have also read that when thrown into a stew-pot they will thicken the sauce. I have not tried this yet... they don't make it past raw in my kitchen.

With all the recent rains the weeds are rampant in growth. I will have to pull hard in some places, but they are welcome mulch. Even the Khakibos has become a friend to me; added around young plants the strong scent repels predatory insects. Nothing wasted.

Until next time,

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


“The yield of the system is limited by our imagination.”
Bill Mollison, founder of permaculture

I am now looking at the specific plants I want to grow in the food forest. I have already got a number of established Citrus and Mulberry trees in the area I am starting with, and have dotted some Moringa here and there between. The shade of the Moringa is very light and I needed to get them planted out from their bags before the summer had advanced too much. I have already harvested leaves to eat. They have really taken off. I think it has a lot to do with the lasagna style beds I have laid around them… greens… dry grass… manure… and then sifted topsoil. I have so many rocks in my soil that this was necessary to start with, I think. I have read that this is not needed but the difference in the plants grown in these beds in comparison to those grown in a less prepared area is almost incredible. Besides, I have a lot of use for the different rock sizes with all the pathways and building I am doing out of rock. It also allows me to assess depths for planting because some rocks are so enormous that it is best not to plant a tree over; and some rocks I like to leave uncovered to be able to access within the beds without walking over the soil.

So far in the Food forest I have Citrus, Moringa, Mulberry, Banana, Litchi, Apricot, Nectarine, Peach, Mango, Papaya, Pineapple, Almond, Raspberry, Spearmint, Sweet potato, Peanuts, Purslane, Strawberries, and Pumpkin. The Pumpkin was from seeds of a rotten Crown Prince Pumpkin that I threw out. They have taken off at a gallop. Any surplus growth will be cut back as mulch if they get too rampant; but in the meantime the half meter height under the umbrella effect of the leaves is serving a wonderful purpose for Papaya grown from seed and transplanted there - as well as off-cut from a box of Pineapples we have enjoyed; they fit so snugly under the leaves as though in a mini-greenhouse.

Until next time,