A Resource Centre for Self-Responsible and Harmonious Living
Growing food at Pindari
Pindari Herb Farm sits on the top of a rocky dolerite hill and to build our gardens we initially had to truck in local soil but in the last 15 or so years we have composted over 1000 tonnes of stable waste and have made our own highly enriched "compost soil." This has very high levels of humus that holds moisture well. We have been and are still in (July 2008) the worst drought we have experienced and the garden to date is alive and producing food and medicinal herbs. We survived by heavily mulching the gardens in spring to reduce evaporation.
Some of our crops have failed or have been poor but we have learnt from this drought how to survive dry times. And it has inspired us to do all we can to both catch the water in our dams and to keep the water in our soil. At this stage we have not had the need to buy in water.
The stable waste we use consists of old sawdust mixed with (grain fed) horse waste. We mix this with garden waste and allow it to compost over 6 to 12 months. Water is a key factor for its efficient composting. The stable sawdust is relatively free of seeds and is chemically clean. Getting the composting process up to a high temperature kills most seeds present.
We apply the compost to the garden at the end of the growing season and just before planting. We use half processed compost as a garden mulch.
We apply a seaweed spray to the
foliage of plants in spring or early summer. This is made by obtaining bull
from the sea and covering it with water in a plastic drum for 6-12 months. It is
then filtered and diluted by approximately 1 to 20 with water and sprayed on
the foliage. We are
currently trialling the composting of large quantities of seaweed in a soil and
stable waste mix for use as
a top dressing. The results to date are very good and
information should be provided on this web page at a later date.
This is now successfully being achieved (08/2009) and a Power point presentation on the process is available
The available mineral content in the soil is a critical factor for a healthy garden. We use dolomite, gypsum and rock phosphate in our gardens and orchards as advised by a detailed soil analysis carried out by SWEP laboratories of Melbourne. They provide information based on organic methods on how to balance minerals in the soil for the crops you intend growing.
We use natural methods to manage diseases in the plants, using better nutrition, natural insecticides and "bug juices." For information on how to make these preparations we suggest acquiring a locally written "natural" gardening book.
We have built a "floppy" fence around our garden to keep out rabbits, possums, wallaby and deer. This is 1200 mm high and made of small mesh wire netting with 300 mm of floppy outward hanging mesh wire supported by a doubled over, vertically threaded, length of straining fence wire. The bottom of the fence also has 300 mm of outward projecting mesh with rocks on it to stop rabbits going under the fence. We also have a dog that tells us if any of the above animals have managed to get in. The Power point DVD contains a presentation on this and there is also now a "Floppy fence" document.
At Pindari this is singularly the most important factor in successfully growing our own food. Previous to building the fence, any vegetables or fruits we were able to grow were eaten. If either a possum or rabbit gets into the garden they can destroy or set us back months with some crops. Details on espaliering and netting fruit trees is also available on the Power point presentations on the available DVD.
We grow mostly non-hybrid vegetables and collect our own seeds. We see this as a very important part for the sustainability of self-sufficiency. We seed swap regularly with others. Care must be taken with the potential for cross-fertilisation, we have had some painful experience with crop failures because of this.
We use crop rotation and companion planting and use our understanding of the "wants and needs" of the vegetable types in regards to the microclimate that they do best in. We have a small nursery area where we grow seedlings and use the kitchen conservatory in early spring for starting the seedlings for the spring planting.
Most vegetables and fruits
require a dry, cool, darkened room with some ventilation for best storage.
We have yet to build an outside "cellar" but do use a pantry in
the house and the zucchini and pumpkins are stored on trays under the eaves
of the house where they receive the morning sun. The zucchinis keep for
several months whilst the pumpkins keep for up to a year. Details on the
purchasing and storing of foods is available at:
(storage.htm or www.the-testament-of-truth.co.uk/web/storage.htm)
The most difficult period for food self-sufficiency at Pindari are for 2 months in mid spring when our root crops have bolted and the spring vegetables have yet to mature. At this time we eat more salads, legumes and stored cereals.
Learning to be self-sufficient in food requires the development of a planting and harvesting calendar that is applicable for that particular garden. This takes time.
White and red meats:
We run free range chickens and have tried ducks but they are very messy and foul the water. Geese are the same and turkeys are difficult to successfully breed and tend to wonder off. The chickens appear the easiest to keep but must be kept out of the garden as they scratch and they need a secure roosting area where they are safe from predatory animals. We eat the eggs and the meat and breed them by allowing brooding hens to sit and hatch their eggs. We keep a strain of bantam in our mostly Australorp hens as they make good mothers. We have found it necessary for the mother with chicks to be in a fully enclosed fenced area to keep out the predatory birds.
We often have fish in both dams but rely more on fish caught locally.
We eat some red meats and have a large wallaby population that is a resource we can resort to in times of need.
Pindari Herb Farm
200 Norwich Drive Longford Tasmania 7301
Web page: www.pindariherbfarm.com
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