Events, Permablitz

Upcoming BPG Blitz – Haddon – 8 August 2021

Maintaining your garden in winter is just as much fun as it is in summer, especially when it's with like minded people!

Our next blitz is in August with a whole host of permie jobs to do. There may also be a flow hive set up demo too. Bees are an essential part of our natural habitat so makes sense to know how to integrate them into our permie set up.

Bookings are essential - please click the link below to ensure you are part of the fun!

COVID protocols will be followed on the day.

EDIT: In light of this afternoon's announcement regarding COVID, we will monitor the govt website in terms of the lockdown protocols, and advise accordingly.

Details of the upcoming blitz:

The jobs are:

• Pruning, cleaning up and/or reducing quite a few established fruit trees.

• Rebuilding one dilapidated compost system, and building a second, new 3-bay compost system in a different place. These will be made from pallets and star pickets.

• Weeding, and cleaning around the many fruit trees, sheet mulching with cardboard and topping with wood chip mulch.

• When the trees are pruned, there will be access to the veg garden which needs weeding in preparation for spring planting.

There is plenty of longer grass & weeds around the trees and blitz attendees should bring their own gloves. The ground is uneven in places (rabbit diggings) and possibly muddy if wet, so attendees should wear good fitting boots or gumboots. There is a nearby unfenced dam, so children should be supervised by their parents (as always). You will have the opportunity to learn pruning and rejuvenating established but neglected fruit trees, and learn how to make compost bays from pallets & star pickets. Our host has also offered an additional activity for children & other interested adults in making insect hotels.

Upcoming Events

Aug 08
BPG Blitz – Haddon
Tristarc Park - 463 Racecourse Road, Haddon, VIC 3351

PDC, Permaculture courses

Cold wet day at the PDC

Dr. Ben Habib kicking off the day on the Permaculture Design Course. Perfect action for a cold wet day!

We're stoked to have Dr Ben Habib joining us again this weekend on the Permaculture Design Course. Ben is a senior lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Latrobe University and talked to us about aspects of social permaculture, including people-centred, localised economics. It's an inspiring day full of exciting ideas! [The PDC has had to run a little longer this year as we 'lost' one weekend during a snap lockdown. Thanks to all our students, site hosts and presenters for their flexibility as we've negotiated new dates.]

Animals in Permaculture, Food & Seasonal eating, Permaculture principles and ethics, Waste reduction & re-use

How to Create a Good Home for Backyard Chickens (The Basics)

You've decided to get chooks for the backyard, and you're ready for all the good stuff your new girls will have to offer.

Chickens are wonderful multifunctional additions to any permaculture system. They convert food scraps into nutritious eggs, produce garden fertiliser & assist with insect pest control. They are also friendly, quirky creatures that will make a great social addition to your home.

But before you bring your new chooks home, it's essential that you have safe and adequate housing ready for them.

No matter what design you decide on for your chook 'zone', here is a basic checklist to get you started.

1. Is The Enough Space?

  • If you are keeping your chickens within a limited run, a good rule of thumb is to allocate about 1.5m2 interior coop space for 3 chickens, and at least double that in yard and run space.

2. Is It Predator Proof?

Max the Heeler x Kelpie demonstrating the essential need for your chicken yard to be fox, dog & cat proof. This chicken house and yard was made from a mix of new and recycled materials.
  • To make the flooring of your chicken 'zone' predator proof, you can install a large mesh flooring. Using large mesh is important because it allows the chickens to still scratch the dirt beneath- important for chicken self expression!
  • Alternatively, you can dig chicken wire at the bottom of the coop fence at least 50cm into the ground- this stops digging foxes from gaining access.
  • Yard walls also need to be high enough, about 1.8 meters will suffice.

3. Is Clean Food and Water Accessible at All Times?

  • A reliable, fresh water supply is critical to mainintain the health of your flock.
  • A grown hen will drink about 500mL water daily, and potentially double that in warm weather.
  • For a chicken 'waterer' to be adequate- it needs to be sturdy enough that it is not easily tipped over by chickens, or can have dirt or dust raked into it.
Hanging poultry waterers can be advatageous over other options as they cannot be tipped over or have dirt or dust scratched into it.
  • Chickens need access to a high protein feed (usually pellets) to supplement kitchen scraps and whatever food they find for themselves.
  • Treadle feeders that regulate the release of pellets are a great option to consider.
Treadle Feeders, such as the commercially available 'Grandpa Feeder' are a great option because they reduce pellet wastage and the attratction of rodents.

4. Does The House Have a Perch?

Perch material ideas include old broom handles or smoothed off rounded logs.
  • Through their evoluntionary survival traits, chickens prefer to sleep perched high on a roost.
  • To provide your chickens with the fundamental basics of a good home, you must provide them with a perch.
  • Perches should be at least 30cm off the ground, and allow 30cm space per bird. A perch diameter of 40-50mm is ideal.
  • While keeping your chickens happy & healthy, roosting helps to keep the chook house clean. Chooks do at least half of their poo at night, so having their perch situated above some kind of manure collection container or system helps to keep the house clean.

5. Is There A Sheltered, Comfortable and Well Ventilated Space in the Chook House for Egg Laying?

  • The chicken house requires laying boxes filled with comfortable and insulating nesting materials (such as straw mulch, shredded paper or highly scented pruned herbs (e.g. rosemary or wormwood- the addition of scented herbs has the adidtional benefit of detering mites!).
  • A good rule-of-thumb is to have one laying box for every 3-4 chickens.
  • Keep in mind that the nesting material will need to be changed regularly as they will be with hen droppings. Not very problematic considering it makes such a great addition to the compost.

4. Is it easily accessible for you?

  • Consider that you will need to easily access the coop to remove manure and eggs, as well as clean it in the event of any disease problems.

There so many design ideas and materials that you can use to build an economical chicken coop that provides safe and adequate housing for your chooks. Of course, the more upcycling/recycling/creativity that takes place, the better! See the 'Further Readings + Resources' section for some creative chicken coop design ideas.

Further Readings + Resources

Very Edible Garden (VEG): ;The Power of the Cook' and 'The Chook Files'

Good Life Permacultue: 'Chicken House'

https://goodlifepermaculture.com.au/tag/chicken-house/

Justin Calvery, CERES (2017). The Urban Farmer, How To Create a Productive Garden in Any Space.

https://www.booktopia.com.au/the-urban-farmer-justin-calverley/book/9780733334535.html

Food & Seasonal eating

Damn Delicious Zucchini Soup

A very yummy soup recipe to nourish your body and embrace your zucchini glut (it freezes very well!).

Ingredients

  • 5 medium zucchini
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • Garden Bouquet Garni- combination of herbs from the garden (e.g chives, thyme, bay leaves, parsley) in gauze to infuse and remove when cooked
  • 2 cups good quality beef stock or consommé
  • Cream and cracked black pepper to serve

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the onion softens
  2. Add roughly chopped chunks of zucchini and slightly brown
  3. Add 2 cups of good quality beef stock or beef consommé, and some water to just cover the zucchini- less is more so that the soup won’t be too runny
  4. Add the bouquet
  5. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 mins
  6. Cool and remove bouquet
  7. Blend cool soup until smooth
  8. Serve re-warmed with cracked pepper and a little cream and cracked pepper