Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Planting our new season lunches - creating garden niches amongst abundant permaculture perennials



The abundance of subtropical permaculture gardens is so clearly evident at this time of year. I am now trimming back areas to create little niches amongst this diversity to plant new season's crops (our lunches and dinners). Tucked away, they are protected from winter frosts - and wallabies. 

We trim back some of the wonderful edible perennials that form the structure of the garden, and create niches for lettuce, beetroot, broccoli, beans, peas, rocket, coriander, silver beet, mustard greens and so on... The trimmings all get returned to the soil either by chop and drop, or through one of the many compost systems.

Brazilian Spinach
Some plants, like Brazilian Spinach, just seem to flourish most of the year providing a constant supply of leafy greens for everyone - including the chooks and guinea pigs.

Zone 1 in my permaculture garden - can you see red hibiscus spinach, mexican tarragon, society garlic, yacon, turmeric, sweet potato, taro, madagascar bean, chia, red salvia...
The lovely young Japanese WWOOFer staying with us at the moment has been top-dressing the garden niches amongst the perennials. We first forked and fed the soil, and replenished the food supply in the worm tower

She's also been teaching our homeschooled kids Japanese language and culture. She has a very interesting story to tell about her life. She comes from a town not far from Fukishima. She was just 15 when the tsunami hit and was of course heavily impacted by it's aftermath. The chronic food shortages that resulted inspired to study agriculture and explore sustainable food systems.  She is in second year of her degree and leads a youth club that rescues food. They cook it up and sell it in a little cafe in their town.  I love having such interesting guests and WWOOFers visit us here - we learn so much and the children are exposed to such worldly issues in a direct way.

Maia was out in the garden working with Rin from Japan and took this photo and the others of her included here. I am looking forward to these mandarins ripening.

The colour and contrast of the Red (purple) Hibiscus Spinach is such a wonderful addition to the garden, here with Red Salvia. I pluck the lemony flavoured leaves for just about every meal - in salad and in stir-fries, pasta sauces, soups....

Watering from the rain and hand-watering - my main ways of watering the garden.
I have designed my garden so that mostly the rain is enough - I divert water from paths into keyholes, I build soil organic matter, I much thickly, I plant hardy and seasonally appropriate plants. Every now and then during the hot dry times, I get out the hose and move it to where it is needed. I also like to give things a good soak when I prepare the soil for a new garden niche. I had re-forked this area and added compost and mulch. I had been prepared as a no-dig garden with paper last season. The weeks and grasses are so week, I have decided to not add more paper this time around. 

Keyhole Path
I took a picture before we added mulch so you can see how I have reformed the keyhole pathway to give me access to the garden niche. It comes off my main contour pathway which collects rain and distributes it to these little keyholes, and is wide enough for a barrow. These little pathways need only be big enough to squat and step in. Small paths mean more garden area. 


Bamboo teepee Trellis cubby

The teepee trellis cubby near the swings is screened by a yacon, pelargonium, salvia and turmeric hedge while the beans are starting to form over the structure. A great little hangout space - our garden is an edible playground.




Herbs hanging over the walls of the terraces soften the edges. I give them a good trim every now and then, give away many cuttings and spread them around the garden. Soon we will get in with our scissors and secateurs to give haircuts to the oregano, thyme, weeping rosemary, vietnamese mint, menthol mint. That's going to be a wonderful sensory overload!



6 comments:

  1. I really appreciate and enjoy your blog post...it's so inspirational to me with what you are doing and how you incorporate it to your daily living. Although we can't grow some of the perennials that you grow there all year, yet I get ideas on how to do some of the things that we could from you. Thanks:)

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    1. Thank you for writing Annie. It would be great to hear what types of perennials you are able to grow in your climate.

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  2. May i ask what part of Australia are you located? ?
    Cheers David

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    1. Subtropical Queensland - in the Sunshine Coast hinterland

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  3. We do something very similar to the keyhole paths and I've found it makes a big difference in our watering.

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