March, First quarter

Autumn is here and the energies in the garden start their yearly descent to earth again. Leaves start falling, we’ve had the first autumn rains, most summer crops are harvested and plants composted. Time to focus on the soil – the origin of the health of you edible oasis, and of your health too – what can we do to improve it? What worked in the garden? What didn’t? It’s a time for reflection and note taking while we still remember how this season went so we know what we need to learn to make next year better.

I’m running a day-long workshop, “permablitz”, on food forest creation and compost making 9th May at a friends place in Mornington. We’ll look at how to implement the permaculture design I created for her– it’s half way there already, and very inspiring!

This is a great opportunity to learn by doing: harvest compost materials and build a compost heap according to the bio-intensive method, look at soil and soil quality to learn about amendments. We’ll end the day by preparing holes for the trees and put stakes in to show which tree will go where – learning about distances and how to plant trees well.

For the theory, we’ll cover things like multi-tiered orchards, herbal ley, chooks in the forest garden, compost integration and more. Most of the theory and practice will be useful for anyone with an edible garden in Wellington. The area we will work on is approximately 20m2.

To register, email Barbara with your name and phone number. Bring good clothes for outdoors work, pen and notebook in case you want to note things down, a potluck lunch dish to share and the course fee: $90-$120, up to you to choose how much you pay. If you are a timebank member, 7 time credits, just let Barbara know beforehand.

To do this week in my Edible Oasis:

  • Soak broad beans overnight and plant next day (even if you don’t like to eat them, they’re great soil conditioners and grow well in winter, and make lots of material for compost).

  • Foliar feed next Thursday, 2nd April (actually, I’ll ask my partner to do it as I’ll be in Christchurch for the annual Permaculture Hui!)

  • Harvest fruit and sunflower seeds

  • Sow seeds for winter lettuces – choose varieties that are known to grow well in winter, such as Koanga Institute’s Winter Heritage Mix.

  • Sow winter greens in the hothouse, like parsley, coriander, rocket etc which I want to grow well and fast.

  • Sow Mustard where the tomatos have been (or still are) and lupin/oats in the other empty beds.

  • Choose a bed for winter veges, in the sunniest spot of the garden. I use Lumos, an app on my iPhone, to check where the sun will be in midwinter and, from now on, only plant edibles where they will get 5h of sun even on 21st June.

  • Prepare that bed with composted manure, lime, fish meal if you can get it, biophos, whatever good organic matter you can get really! Turn it into the top 10cm of the soil. Digging in seaweed also seem to work, or bokashi in the bottom of a trench… Cover it all with thick mulch and plant into this.

  • Transplant winter veges into the new bed: silverbeet, chard, winter lettuces, endive/chicory and peas. Later in autumn, I’ll fill the gaps with the winter lettuces I sow now.

  • Manure and mulch fruit trees & bushes. Make sure citrus are well watered & fed.

  • Plan what I need to do with my fruit trees & bushes over winter: pruning, planting new companions/herbal lay, put on copper oxy in spring to slow down the leaf curl on the peach etc.

  • Start looking for places where fallen leaves accumulate so I can collect them later on.

  • Order strawberry plants and other perennials.

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