The Highly Productive, Professionally Engineered Leaf Trap

petit paradis leaf trap

Our Professionally Engineered Leaf Trap has risen to higher levels of productivity with the recent winds. Days of high winds have started stripping the local park trees of their precious cover of leaves. These in turn have been deposited into our handy and convenient Leaf Trap at the base of our steps.

petit paradis leaf trap

So we have managed to bag up several bags of leaves to have ready for the compost bins and worm farms as they break down and drop their levels. What a great resource to have.

We also had to remove tree branches from a fallen limb at the other house and in the process tidied up a couple of fallen branches from the local park. Mainly eucalypts and some Common Coral Tree Erythrina x sykesii. These we mulched up for use in the garden, once they had decomposed a little over the coming months.

So the house and park got a tidy up and we have a nice store of carbonaceous material ready for the raised garden beds once completed.

Rainwater

frog ppHow fantastic it is to be able to finally shower with filtered rainwater. To know that the water we have been using has been sitting in the tanks waiting for us over the months prior to us moving in. It was early January when the plumber and I met on a sunny afternoon to make sure that all the systems were working properly. We found small leaks which needed repairing. The Greywater System needed a good flushing out and how great it was to see that it was pumped up to the top garden without any drama. By the time we were ready to move in all systems were up and running. It was just a matter of observing how they operated and how we related to them.

There are some idiosyncrasies of course. Given we are on a tank system which is pumped into the house there is a small delay when we use the taps before the pump kicks in and then there is a jump in the water pressure. We have become accustomed to this already. The hot water system is working really well and  is even super hot in the early morning.

On the occasional overcast days recently it has just managed to get us by. I don’t generally have hot showers for health reasons, so Gran is our gauge on how cool the water is and she’s not mentioned anything as yet.  It’s also great to be able to drink water straight from the shower. Clean, filtered, rain water.

We are now into Autumn and are receiving small top ups of rainwater each week through the odd nightly rain shower or downfall during the day. So we are over the threat of running out altogether which means we have managed to do with the two large tanks we have over three very dry months. I have not installed our rain gauge yet, it would have been handy to know exactly how much we did receive here during that time, but for now there is always next summer.

 

 

 

 

 

Mini-Crops for your Little Paradise

As we await the completion of our larger, raised garden beds, I cannot let it stand as an excuse not to grow our own food. So in the meantime we have a couple of plants started to supplement that which we purchase from the local farmers market. I have sprinkled lettuce seeds, parsley seeds and mustard seeds pretty liberally around the garden in areas of sand or bare dirt so that we can benefit from those plants that thrive with our neglect. However, there are three plants in particular that I have in containers simply because they are so easy to get started.

The first is Pak Choy which I am very, very fond of. Particularly in smoothies and stir-fries. This little crop was started from about an inch of the base of each Pak Choy plant that I used in the kitchen. Like most Brassicas they are keen to keep on giving so they are really easy to start on some damp towel on the kitchen bench and then transplant out once they have leaves forming.

pak choy petit paradis

The Little Fellas are keen on potatoes. They love them. Regular white potatoes or sweet potatoes, or purple. Really, whatever Dad is happy to grow for them. They are easy to grow in containers with a bit of compost and some sand. I wait for the flowers to die down and get to them when I need some for the kitchen. The Little Fellas are acutely aware of the difference between a Ladybug and the Twenty-Eight Spotted Bugs that are really the only sort of pest that might trouble them and they are happy enough to squash them or feed them to pet birds.

potatoes petit paradis

Next up are Shallots. Those in the photo below had only been in the soil about a week. A little autumn rain and sunshine and they were into it. I grew the original crop and kept some of the smaller ones from the harvest in a container over summer when we moved house. Little Fella J and myself planted them out, spoke to them nicely and let nature do the rest.

shallots petit paradis

There is yet another favourite crop we like to keep on the go as well which does really well in pots and that is Spring Onion. Again, like the Pak Choy, we leave about an inch or so of the lower part of the plant and roots – typically the whiter part of the ‘bulb’. This is put in a little bit of water, only to get it by until we plant it in the garden. Don’t cover it completely. Let it breath and bask in the sun a little and within days, if not overnight, it will be reaching for the sky. When you harvest, simply repeat the process. Again and again and again. They take up so little room and are really handy in the kitchen.

The containers are usually filled with kitchen scraps at the bottom. Cardboard. Paper. All the good stuff that compost worms like. We ‘seed’ the containers with some soil from the worm farms so that further down the track there is rich feed for both worms and plant.

These mini-crops are easily fertilised by the run-off from our worm farm. It’s fantastic stuff. It feeds them well. Uses up scraps from the kitchen. Makes great compost and soil amendment and can fit on the back deck, verandah or patio. Usually Zone One in a permaculture design. Back door step stuff! Easy.

Cos’ it has to be! Right?

The Professionally Engineered Leaf Trap

 

petit paradis leaf trap

This was one of those “Mate – you’re different.” moments.

There was no friend present when I first lay my eyes on the above scene, but I’m sure that would have been the response to my reaction of “Awesome!” and my spontaneous enthusiasm to immediately begin gathering as many handfuls of leaves I could, shoving them into a bucket for swift relocation to the compost bin.

I grew even more ecstatic when it dawned on me that by having inset the stairway entry to the house, we had inadvertently engineered ourselves a perfect leaf trap from which to harvest the bountiful autumn leaves that blow over to our house from the park.

I expected the leaves to gather in the drive-way.

They did this before the renovation. The wind hand picks them as though on fishing line invisible to the eye and carries them in an almost deliberate dance to gently place them on our drive-way, where the distraction of playing amongst the roses and the sloping corrugated fence-line means the wind loses interest and forgets about the leaves. They lie there for days. As they build in number they appear to accumulate at a faster rate.

I am also aware that this would be an abhorrent mess to any regular gardener. There would be cursing, the revving of the leaf blower.

It would be regarded as an abomination to the order of things. I am aware of this. It’s what I like about permaculture. The problem is the solution. It means I can slacken off from trips across the road to the park to fill a bag of leaves for the compost bin or worm farm. They are instead conveniently placed – at the front steps!

It gets better. I have assistance. The Little Fellas also take it upon themselves (dare I say, sometimes with financial incentive) to harvest the leaves and put them in the compost bin. It’s cooking up a storm that compost bin. It’s going to be a great bit of vintage dirt. The crap we’ve put into it! Amazing.

 

 

Take what the day gives

chaos pp

No pretty blog pics here. Raw chaos. Photoshop not included.

From time to time I briefly observe the remarkable sights of other peoples blogs and websites. It’s both an experience of awe and total disenchantment to me. Awe at others endeavours and successes. Disenchantment on reflection of our own current state of utter chaos and the relentlessness of working through the mundane list of chores that line the path to the flicker of hope, the glimmer of the shiny vision of what could be – if we keep going. It’s a grand vision. It has to be. I would have stopped years ago otherwise.

Will it be worth it?

Probably not. Not unless we remain committed to sticking to the plan.

With each day, I know I have to take what the day gives. To continue to work through the new distractions, the fatigue, the days I get up early and go to my day job. There is often so much more happening in and around our home life that I joke to people that I go to work in my spare time. I take inspiration from such blogs as The New Good Life, Growing with Plants, the realness and down-to-earth postings at Much More Mulch.

The day to day observations and captured images of Tony Tomeo take me beyond our own little emerging paradise and remind me of my travels. Of the world that lies out there beyond our little forming paradise.

I realise that much of the disenchantment I feel stems from seeking order and organisation. Natural beauty. All the while being surrounded by visions to the contrary. A seemingly ever-increasing list of jobs to do. To work through. I’ve been through this landscape of lists before and I’ve overcome them. I was however, never prepared for the magnitude of what it would take for this current endeavour or the time it would take. Let alone navigating through it while raising two young boys and in contrast, managing the requirements of my Mother-in-law.

At any rate, when the days work is done I reflect on what has gone before. I wouldn’t say it feels rewarding. It’s just the subtlest feeling of moving closer that mildly satisfies for now. Scattered through the day are moments when the notebook is taken from my pocket and scribbled with ideas, dreams, sketches and reminders of goals being worked towards.

The Notebook is proof that something other than present circumstances are at work. The ideas captured within are reminders that I’m in for the long haul.