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.
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.
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.
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.
Come join us on Sunday 5th May, 2 – 4.30pm, for a tour of Murrnong, from the inside out.
This tour is a window into what permaculture design applied to a property, and to life, can look like after 22 years. Murrnong has been evolving since 1996 from what was 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.
The two and a half hour 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 an inspiringly regenerated and attractive landscape that sustains family, friends, visitors, and customers. Get a sense of what productive downshifter life can be like.
Meet the chickens, Alfred the very friendly rooster, the milking goats, and the core of the Murrnong family, David and Cecilia.
Tea, coffee and produce available at the beginning and end.
First week end of this year’s Permaculture Design Course with lovely group of people that are passionate about food security, sustainable living and self reliance. The course goes on for 7 week ends, it’s still possible to join. Give us a call!
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.
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
This very dense grass growth among smaller trees in the olive grove was probably beginning to compete with the trees.
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.
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!