Wednesday, October 24, 2012

They Wrote The Book

Michel and Jude Fanton started an organization in 1986 that in my opinion could solve billions of cases of starvation if their voice were to reach enough of a global audience.  The couple would have been my favorite professors if they had been employed by Babson College while I was there.  Together they bring about a passion in each other to share their vision with everyone listening and have really found an exciting way to AddMoreGreen.  
I recently had the opportunity to visit their house and incredible gardens when they hosted Seed Savers' Open Garden Day at their home in Byron Bay.  The morning was comprised of educational experiences to broaden our fruit and vegetable vocabulary.  They also shared their personal takes on making curry powder, made entirely with home grown ingredients.  Pictured below are just some examples of potential combinations and below that is a chalkboard full of ideas.
 Superfoods rock!
Now on to the real inspiration, for me at least.  Their veggie beds were jam-packed with green goodness of all sorts.  After all of these years figuring out what works best they have a soil consistency that makes you want to bathe in it.  No mulch needed here because all of the bad stuff has already been weeded out...literally.  What makes me happiest is that they've found an incredible way to regenerate and sustain their garden season after self-seeds!  What else could we expect from Seed Savers?
Can you figure out what all of these yummy vegetables are?  Maybe you should get your copy of the Seed Savers' Handbook which is also jam-packed with green goodness.  Listed inside are more than one-hundred veggies, herbs, and edible flowers with information on origins, cultivation, usages and more.
 and it goes on...
 ...and on...
 ...on some more...
 ...they @addmoregreen everywhere!...
 ...and finally to the compost!  I know I'm happy with the compost that brought my garden back to life but Michel mentioned that these guys have a five year plan.  When it comes to thinking about the future it's really important to forget all the negativity, and simply focus on what your needs will be in the coming years.  Composting, self-seeding, saving seeds; all of these components add up to one really important for the future.  We're going to need it, and with the help of Michel and Jude we will all be a little closer to feeding the mouths of many.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Victory Is Sweet

In April of this year before leaving for the US, we planted a considerable amount of sweet potato vines on an underutilized area of the property in an effort to @addmoregreen to our diets (vegetarians always like more options).  For the two months before leaving Australia, I watered the area religiously everyday, making sure that the area remained well quenched (although not too wet because sweet potatoes do not like waterlogged soil).  With vines that were only a few months old I was afraid for their future but as you can see below, mission accomplished!  Now that we've returned home we have started to harvest the crop and have only just scratched the surface; this pile of sweet potatoes is about 5% of what remains uncovered.
Before our existence on Kookaburra Hill, this area was a large banana plantation that was devastated by Bunchy Top and wiped out the entire farm.  Since that time, molasses grass has taken over most of the area where bananas used to thrive.  However, thanks to some hard work and determination we have cleared out a 150 sq. metre plot to begin what we hope to be a great permaculture garden some day.  The vines lay on a hill that is entirely north facing and receive sunlight from sunrise to sunset.  Below is the current state of the area with sweet potato vines going wild!
This was my first time ever cultivating and harvesting sweet potatoes and I'm extremely happy for how successfully it went.  Now that we have a great groundcover established our next step to advance the area will be to plant small fruit bushes that will continue providing us with delicious foods!  My next immediate challenge is to figure out what to do with all of these sweet potatoes, two of us can only eat so much starch.  Any ideas of great ways to distribute massive amounts of sweet potatoes would be greatly appreciated in the comments section.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Back To Life

After 17 weeks away from home you can only imagine the state my garden was in.  Although there was a couple renting the house for the better part of 14 weeks, and although they seem to be hobby gardeners, there was certainly plenty of work to be done.  It's now been almost 8 weeks without a serious rain here in Northern NSW and man does the soil tell the story...rock solid. Another surprise I came across were ashes from the fireplace that had been added to the raised beds.  Turns out ash can be used as a great input for compost as it adds valuable nutrients and can deter insects & weeds from accumulating.  I started by forking the beds in order to loosen the soil and prepare all the areas where I planned to @addmoregreen.
Below is a display of how we have the compost setup at home.  On the left are two small trash bins that are used on a daily basis for kitchen scraps such as orange peels and egg shells (only Guy eats eggs though).  When those bins are full we add their contents (usually quite smelly) to one of the larger bins on the right.  The triangle shaped bin takes much longer to process as the contents sit stagnant for much of the time unless you have a compost turning tool.  The tumbler on the right is our greatest piece of compost equipment.  When I go out each day with the kitchen scraps to add to the trash bins I give the tumbler a good six or seven spins which speeds up the process...nearly twice as fast as the triangle bin.
Next, I took the contents from the tumbler which were ready after our 17 weeks away from home and added them to the areas I already forked.  To this mix I added Yates Dynamic Lifter and Searles 5 In 1.  With freshly forked soil and natural fertilisers added to the beds, I stirred it all together using my garden fork again and then gave the beds a nice drink of water to settle the fertilisers in place.  Now that the soil was ready for new plants I spread out the "starts" in an arrangement that would allow each to get an optimal amount of sun while also working off each other in a permaculture sense (basil near the tomatoes, etc.).
And finally, I got my hands dirty...NO GLOVES!
I hope this post has been a great example for turning your old and worn out soil into something more useful and beautiful.  Let us know what you thought about this post in the comments section.  Take a peek at the pictures below to see exactly what I added to the garden.  Also, be sure to check back for upcoming posts as I will be posting more pictures as all of these plants progress!
Lettuce- Mignonette Mixed
Found these vines growing in two different pots when I got home.  Initially, I thought it was pumpkin but a friend added her input stating the vines are watermelon...I suppose we will have to wait and see when these plants begin to produce.
Lettuce- Mixed
Roma Tomatoes
Silverbeet- Fordhook Giant

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Add More Green by Nick Kovaleski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.