Spring house, garden & farm tour, this Sunday 12th September

Spring house, garden and farm tour, Murrnong Event Banner
photo by Patrick Casey

Regional lockdown restrictions have eased just in time for our long planned House, Farm and Garden tour this Sunday, 12th September. 12.30pm to 3pm, bookings here.

Outdoor tours for up to 20 people are allowed, and there are no restrictions on travel distance within regional Victoria, other than the Shepparton bubble.

People from Melbourne mostly won’t be able travel here, but we will do another tour when restrictions lift.

Event description

Murrnong has been evolving since 1996 from what had been a grass field. These days Murrnong is a self-reliant home and farm, with food gardens, tree crop agriculture, and shelter forestry of trees and shrubs. You can see more about Murrnong at murrnong.com

What a tour can include

Typically a tour will progress from the house, to the gardens, to the garden farming, tree crops, and forestry. See how considered permaculture design and ongoing management can lead to a regenerated and attractive landscape that sustains family, friends, visitors, and customers. Get a sense of what productive downshifter life can be like.

For permaculture students, a Murrnong tour is an example of open-ended design, adapting to changing times and changing personal circumstances. It is also  an opportunity to see how tree plantings evolve over time with ongoing management, and to get a sense of the kind of space that tree plantings need as they develop.

Meet the chickens, the milking goats, and Murrnong designer and developer, David Arnold.

Farm produce will be available for sale at the beginning and end of the tour.

Autumn house, garden and farm tour

We are in our super busy time here at Murrnong right now, in late December, with Cecilia away visiting her family and leaving a big hole in the Murrnong team. We are working hard to keep up with the summer fruit ripening – mulberries, apricots, and Morello cherries just now – and the return of face to face farmers’ markets. We’ll be at the Lancefield farmer’s market this Saturday, 19th Dec, or call in to our farm shop during business hours (fresh fruit for your pavlova!).

We are also planning for the year ahead, with our 2021 PDC starting in January, and our autumn tour in May.

Tickets are now available for our Autumn 2021 tour. You can buy tickets here, and read more about what to expect from a tour, here.

2021 Permaculture Design Course

Our 2021 PDC, six weekends over five months, takes place every third weekend from January 23rd through to May, 2021.

Follow the booking link for more information about the PDC, or go to murrnong.com/pdc

2021 Murrnong PDC, and more

The 2021 Murrnong Permaculture Design Course begins on Saturday Jan 23, and takes place over six weekends until May 16. All the dates and other details for the course are available here, and tickets here.

We are really pleased to have been able to add three new RetroSuburbia style house and garden retrofits to our site visits this year, and yes, these have been developed by previous PDC participants. Through these visits we engage with seven home gardens, seven house/ building retrofits, and 3 or 4 farm enterprises. We hear from at least eight women and eight men…. it takes a village to teach a permaculture course! Again this year one of those tutors is our special guest David Holmgren, who will be with us for the April weekend.

House, Garden and Farm tour, Sunday 6 December
Our ‘spring’ tour is a little late this year, and is coming up soon. Read more here, and tickets here.

Introduction to Permaculture, Numurkah, Sunday 29th November
This one is coming up really soon, this Sunday. If you live in or near northern Victoria, or are due for a visit, you can read more here, and get tickets here.

Internships and learning exchange at Murrnong
This is an opportunity to live and learn in the non-monetary economy. Internship tasks and program can be tailored to suit specific interests. Murrnong’s size, and diversity of elements, allow for a big range of tasks and allow for visitors to choose areas of responsibility.
There is even more scope for responsibility with Cecilia away for at least four months from December 2020. Read more here.

Mario and Reiko, November 2020

2019 Spring tour, workshops, and PDC at Murrnong

Here is what’s coming up this Spring at Murrnong.

Spring House, Garden and Farm Tour

Saturday 5th October 2019, at Murrnong

Workshops

Introduction to Permaculture, Alexandra

Sunday 8th September 2019, at a home and garden in Alexandra, Vic

Living and Working With Trees and Shrubs

Sunday 15th September 2019, at Murrnong

RetroSuburbia in Wangaratta

Sunday 22nd September 2019, at a suburban home in west Wangaratta, Vic

Permaculture Design Course

This is the one for a more extended, holistic, and wide-ranging learning experience. We can’t solve our problems with the thinking that created them. Starts November 23rd, seven weekends over seven months.

The Spring shift

Pasture growth is a grazing resource and our main soil development tool. In the tree crops at this time of year we mow to set back the grass, and free up the soil and water resources for tree growth and fruiting.

orchard

Winter grazing only removes about 50% of the leaf area, with very little root growth retardation. The pasture recovers very quickly. The spring mowing removes almost 100% of the pasture leaf area, and substantially sets back the grass. Grass roots die, soil microbes decompose these, and tree roots and their fungal associates then explore those former grass root pathways for nutrients.

Early Spring this year saw cool weather, rain, a full soil profile of stored water, and surplus water in the upper profile.So we let the grass in the tree rows keep growing, using that surplus moisture, and adding more root material to the orchard soil.

Timing of the main Spring mowing depends mostly on water availability …. is the soil moisture better used for more grass growth, or saved for the trees?
Other factors we consider are
– availability of pasture for the goats, and of mown pasture for chicken forage
– very dense and vigorous grass growth competing with the trees…. size of trees vs the grass
– reducing fire risk for the coming summer, trying to allow time for surface mulch to begin to decompose
– use the tractor and fuel as little as possible while still maintaining good production and fire safety
– attraction and hosting of pollinators in the orchard other than honeybees, and insect predators for pest control services
– forage for honeybees, mainly the pollen resource for hive increase in Spring from capeweed daisy Arctotheca calendula

olives

This very dense grass growth among smaller trees in the olive grove was probably beginning to compete with the trees.

Closing circles

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Digging out the deep litter in the chook yard for use in the kitchen gardens. This wonderful rich compost soil will be great food for the soil micro organisms and for our veggies! The chooks really appreciate me digging around in the yard, a lot of compost worms are contributing to the chooks’ protein needs these days. I turn the litter a day before removing it to let the chooks scratch through it and eat all they want, since compost worms don’t survive in the gardens beds anyway.

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In the second half of the chook yard there’s the mountain of weeds I’ve been removing from the kitchen gardens the last two weeks. The chooks really like our kitchen and garden waste – brassica flowers, snails and celery seems to be their favourites. Happy, well nourished chooks reward us with more eggs!

 

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Welcome Cecilia

Our very happy news is that Cecilia Lundmark has come to live at Murrnong.

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Cecilia is an all round wonderful person who brings many skills and much awesomeness to Murrnong.

Cecilia and David were married in July, in her native Sweden.

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Grass and growth!

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7th October 2016, goats grazing and David standing in a row of pasture between 16 year old olive trees.img_0048 This was close grazed and almost bare in early May, after having been grazed 4 or 5 times through the summer. In the last 6 months of cool wet conditions, it has been grazed two more times. Other than some woodchip compost under the trees, the pasture itself has not had fertiliser added of any kind for about 16 years. No ploughing either. Just pulse grazing and pulse mowing. Annual and perennial plants go well together, combined with high impact short rotation grazing.spring-2016
Capeweed growth on orchard farm track, very little capeweed elsewhere.
Capeweed, Arctotheca calendula, can be seen flowering on the edge of the footpath in the foreground of the second photo, and on the farm track above. Capeweed is a fast growing annual that has grown well around tracks and high traffic areas, and in other places where the soil is bared. The capeweed flowers are providing pollen for the spring bee build-up, and the capeweed roots are opening and repairing the soil. If we stopped using the tracks they would heal and regenerate and revert to pasture. With continued good pasture management there is no risk of this plant invading from the tracks and taking over the pasture areas.

Grafting and queen mating flight

kate-barnwellOne of the joys of working in nature are the occasional special little moments of connection.
Kate Barnwell, fruit tree enthusiast from South Carolina, was helping us catch up on some grafting. While scoping out what we wanted to do across the whole orchard, we had admired how active and plentiful our bees are this glorious Spring.
Then about 30 minutes later we were working on this cherry plum, 200 metres from the hives, when a  cloud of bees passed right over our heads, coming from the direction of the hives.
We tried to follow them on foot, but unlike a swarm they were travelling purposefully, too fast for us to follow them far, and quickly went out of sight beyond the olive grove. The next day none of the hives showed reduced numbers, as they would have if they had given up a swarm, so it seems we were just in the right place at the right time to witness a queen and some of her admirers on their way to a drone congregation area. It felt very magical to have just been admiring the bees 30 minutes before, then to be 200 metres away and have them fly right over our heads, as if they wanted to show us what they were up to.