Permaculture Diary

In the permaculture course I am doing we are encouraged to diary about our site and the things that we observe or discover as we attempt to design and develop our sites in line with permaculture principles. Given I have a blog I thought this would be the best place to keep the diary – you never know you might be able to help me out!

Week 1: 24th Feb

This week we were asked to describe our sites. I have a 1012 Sq metre suburban section in Anderson Bay/Tainui. The house, garage shed, deck and paths probably take up 1/4 of the space. Half of the site which includes the house is level. The rest of the site slopes gently/moderately (but for Dunedin you would probably say gently). The site is fully fenced. I have recently moved in but there are a number of gardens already established although they have not been cared for for some time, bushes and shrubs have become leggy as there has been no pruning for some time and the weeds are well established. Most of the gardens contain flower plants or shrubs. There is a vegetable garden that I have cleared and done some planting in. I made my first no dig garden over one very weed filled garden and transshipped a small berry plot from my old house (a couple of blackberries, 3 cranberries and 2 blueberry bushes). I have one plum tree (also transplanted from the old house).

One part of the garden the neighbours tell me attacks birds in the right season (which one I don’t know – no birds currently) there is a Strawberry Tree and a Lucerne Tree (neighbours description).

I know that down one side of the house in wet weather it sounds squishly again the neighbours tell me it dries out quickly.

the gardens under the eves are very dry currently.

Weather – This week has been mainly fine, a couple of beautiful days and some overcast, a little light rain.

Rain fall- I know that since I put up the rain gauge on the 9th Jan to 23rd Feb there has been 53 ml? of rain (includes the weight of 2 large spiders that got into the rain gauge and died!).

I don’t know which way my site faces – but I know it is not North facing I will have to work it out!

In the vege garden at the moment I have:

Rhurbarb – producing prolifically, Courgettes – Which haven’t done very well only a few small ones – I don’t think I watered them enough now the are nearly done, silverbeet currently being harvested (+6 new plants donated and planted by the neighbour), broccoli – 6 well established but no heads, 6 cauliflower plants, some bunching onions (which seem not to have bunched!), one apple cucumber that hasn’t produced. Some dwarf beans half a row 15cm tall some just coming through, scarlet runner beans about 1 mt high – no beans yet some flowers, lettuces 5 plants being picked regularly, and the cats think the portion of the garden not planted is a good place for a toilet!!

Gardening Activity this week:

Weeded berry plot, Pulled out of pile for the the skip some wood and cut it for the fire, and some twigs for the compost bin – my compost bin isn’t composting well! added twigs, blood and bone and some water ??? still too dry – need to get the lawn mower man to add some grass clippings.


14 responses to “Permaculture Diary

  1. occupationaltherapyotago

    2nd March
    Still haven’t figured out which way the site faces


    Only a few days of sun this week, temperature has dropped often below 20 degrees this week. Saturday and Sunday rained most of the day and night.

    Water gauge: not yet read but there has been a lot of rain

    Vegetable: no new planting, Silverbeet still being harvested (but something is eating it there are large holes in the leaves ???) – lettuces coming to an end, scarlet runner beans lots of flowers, broccoli a couple of heads 15cm across otherwise just continued growth.

    Gardening activity this week – nil!!

    We have been asked to think about the micro climates on our sites – which will be interesting!!

  2. occupationaltherapyotago

    Hi J,

    Because you’re keeping this diary all on the one page and kinda outside the main stream of your blog I can’t pick up the RSS feed and include it with the onliners.

    No worries if that’s what you’d prefer.

  3. occupationaltherapyotago

    You are so right – I didn’t stop to think about RSS. I was too intent on keeping things in nice neat packages on my blog . I might have to have a rearrange…bother!

  4. A stimulating diary – which will bounce us all into action!

  5. Jackie – to find out the direction you face – check out your house on the DCC website as they are lined up according to compass – thats what I used to identify our line for this house – (haven’t done for the new section we’ve just purchased though!) Remind me what no dig garden is again = can I do that at our house??

  6. occupationaltherapyotago

    Week 3 – March 10th
    Re: which way my section faces. Merrolee my problem is that I do have map with a compass on it and so I do know which way all the boundaries face but what I don’t know is how you say it is North facing or south west facing – is it how the section sits to the road or… It’s amazing the simple things in life that you suddenly find you don’t know enough about.

    We have continued to be quite cool temperatures in the 15-20 degrees in the day and down to 6 overnight. The rain gauge and thus my section has had 68mls of rain from 26th Feb to the 8th March.

    The garden
    I harvested the first of a batch of broccoli and there are another 2 almost ready. I have a few runner beans able to be picked but not enough for a meal (hopefully they will wait for the others to catch up and not get eaten or rot meanwhile!). The neighbours harvested my rhubarb which was over taking everything and it was given away at a local Kindy. The lettuce is just hanging in there. Almost pulled out the courgette plants but decided they might have 1 or 2 still in them. I planted some more broccoli, some cauliflower and more lettuce (brought seedlings). I need to get back to planting my own seeds buying seedlings isn’t very cost effective. I had hoped that the 1/2 row of dwarf bean seeds I planted 2-3 ago would grow as the first half of the row planted 3 weeks earlier did but it would appear I am too late in the season as only a couple have come up and they look a bit sick.

    I did a bit of weeding of the front flower gardens which have been neglected somewhat, some I haven’t gotten around to weeding since I moved in 2 months ago! I’m pleased to see the very small Chatham Island lilly I transferred when I shifted is growing and now has a few leaves. I suspect I accidentally weeded some winter roses that were only seedlings, by the time I realised where they should have been the soil had been nicely turned over. Someone told me you could prune some roses after there first flush of flowers so I pruned a month ago and sure enough I have a second flush of flowers.

    I was having a conversation at the course I am doing about having a garden that multiplies itself so that you don’t have to plant seedlings or seeds. I was reminiscing about a flat I was in when I first graduated that had multiplying leeks – which meant there were always leeks to eat. From there we got onto walking onions (and as a result I was given some on Sunday). I think they sound fascinating. If you leave some of these to go to seed they firstly flower and then little onions start to grow on the stalk where the flower was. As they grow they start to get too heavy and the flower stalk bends down until the little onions end up on top of the soil and start to grow – which I think is rather clever. The common name walking onions seems very descriptive of what happens.

    Plants on my list of plants that are easily self sustaining are:
    walking onions
    I tried to grow some bunching onions but they didn’t grow ( I need to try again)
    Potatoes – as I always miss some when digging them up
    Multiplying leeks – although I haven’t seen any for ages

    Hopefully my list will grow.

  7. occupationaltherapyotago

    Tonight I had field mushrooms for tea. Suddenly realised that a number of them had popped up on my lawn. They tasted fantastic. It looks like there might be another meal of them coming as long as the lawnmower man with his mower doesn’t get to them before I do.

  8. occupationaltherapyotago

    Week 4
    Well my section is I think North West facing not the best for sun and gardening but ok.

    Remained quite cool this week only 4ml of rain to Saturday 14th

    The Garden
    continuing to get a small number of field mushrooms every third day – they certainly taste good. Currently harvesting broccoli, runner beans, silverbeet, lettuce, raddishes.
    Weeded a section of the garden I haven’t touched which looked like where the previous owners had dumped their grass clippings the area had become over taken by potato plants. So managed to get two buckets of potatoes!.

    Planted some multiplying onions I was given, some cauliflower plants and spinach seedlings. The garden it looking pretty full I suspect this is the last of the planting till winter is over.

  9. occupationaltherapyotago

    Week 5
    Whoops am a bit late posting this week.

    A little bit of rain (but I have forgotten to look at the rain gauge for how much) it’s getting quite cool now especially at night.

    The Garden
    Decided to attach the flowerbeds this weekend. The beds along the front of the house are certainly dry. I have a number of roses flowering at the moment the prune in Feb did wonders> The cosmos is flowering well despite where they are being very dry. I planted some stock plants a few weeks ago these have been very slow to take off and have only beefed out a little. Always knew there was some mint by the front door but think there is also some oregano (but not sure). The rosemary I severely pruned in Jan is coming away – I was able put rosemary in with the roast. I have these pretty pink flowers coming up in the flower beds (self sown but have no idea what they are). Vege garden I have been picking beans and broccoli, lettuces are almost over. The walking onions I planted appear to have taken which is great.

  10. we were thinking about moving to dunedin and starting a permaculture garden .but we are unsure of the weather and what is possible to grow.what will you be harvesting over the winter.and i have heard there is very little sun there that it is overcast a lot is this true?do you think that it is a good place to start up garden?

  11. occupationaltherapyotago

    Hi Anna sorry for the delay getting to your post – I have been away for a holiday. Dunedin is a lovely place to live. We get quite a bit of sun but over the winter there is not a lot of heat in it. I’m pretty new to gardening when I lived in Auckland things grew faster there and there was a longer summer growing season. Here I notice that I have to be better at knowing when and what to plant in Auckland most things seemed to grow whenever you planted them with just a little seasonal variation. Here it is still possible to grow a good garden with plenty to harvest but I think if I am going to get tothe stage of being self sufficient I will need to think a little more about preserving and freezing to give me a variety of vegetables all year. I also think that having a glass house would help. I haven’t been successful at growing tomatoes and cucumbers which I love but I notice my neighbour has a small crop in a sunny protected spot and I know others with glass houses who get reasonable crops (I think however that you still have to plant at the right time). At the moment in my garden being harvested I have silverbeet, broccoli, spinach, rhubarb, cranberries, leaks which are still small but harvestable, the cabbages and cauliflowers are just beginning to heart. I probably should have planted more brussel spouts, and broccoli. It has been a good year this year for runner beans I have just harvested the last of these. I still have potatoes and onions harvested earlier this year. I’m not that good at gardening I am sure others are doing much better. You could also do micro greens to help supplement the garden.

    In summary Dunedin is a great place to live choose where you live carefully for sun and shelter (lots of wind down here). If you can get a glass house that ould really help. Also i think you need to take care to plant your vegetables at the right time to make the most of the seasons and lastly consider preserving and freezing.
    I hope this helps. Jackie

  12. occupationaltherapyotago

    Whoops I have been slacking and unfortunately my blogging is representative of my gardening activity. I am just lucky that the activity earlier in the year is now paying dividends in the vege garden. Though the weeds I am currently harvesting silverbeet, cabbages, cauliflowers, spinach, lettuce and leeks and rhubarb ( I picked the cranberries last week only enough to nibble not cook)- so vegetable wise I am pretty well supplied. I have to say the cauliflowers and cabbages are huge – given that they seemed awfully leafy 6 weeks ago – such that on the neighbours advise I cut slightly into the stalk of them to shock the plant into thinking that it was under attack and thus needing to put energy into growing fruit (ie cabbages and cauliflower) to ensure its ongoing survival. Seems to have worked.
    The temperatures have been pretty low in the last few weeks – day time 6-12 and night cooler although at my place there hasn’t yet been a frost. A little rain and definitely less sun ( I will need to go and read the rain gauge). I will have to see if there is anything I could be planting to ensure the produce continues. I don’t want to get to August and have nothing. I know that you can plant broadbeans but I ‘m not sure I like them – maybe it is time to try.

    Lets hope for some sunshine so that I can attack the weeds this weekend.

  13. occupationaltherapyotago

    The weather hasn’t been that great, a bit of a biting wind that puts one off gardening. I have been living on cauliflower the last couple of weeks – they have been huge. Since the last time I read the rain gauge back on March 14th we have had 85mls of rain. Still harvesting leeks, silverbeet, lettuce, rhubarb, cabbage, the spinach has some rust??? or something! so not great. The broccoli are growing but very small crowns so far. Likewise the onions, small but growing. Did some weeding and planted broad beans (it is going to be interesting to see if I actually like them, I don’t have good childhood memories of how they taste) I will have to find some recipes, also planted more lettuce (most of the rest is on it’s last legs) and more spinach.

  14. occupationaltherapyotago

    28th June
    Weather – Wet and cold temperatures mostly below 10 degrees (to wet to go and read the rain gauge!!).
    So the weeds continue to grow and the garden remains untended – thankfully they grow slowly due to the weather.

    Still harvesting silverbeet, leeks, rhubarb. I have one cabbage and 2 cauliflowers still growing. The cauliflowers have been huge such that even with giving every second one away I’ve eaten cauliflower with almost every meal. I’ve never had success before with cauliflowers (I think I planted them at the right time this year for a change).
    One of the cauliflower plants even managed to give me two cauliflowers – if only you could get this to happen on every plant (as both were a good size) – I wondered whether it was one I part cut the stem of when I was concerned that I had all leaf and no head.??
    I’m on holiday soon so hopefully the weather will be kind and I will get a bit of gardening done.

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