Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Summer Solstice Produce

This is what we are currently eating from the garden.

And these are what we are currently drying for replanting.

Broad beans are delicious, but they're also good as a soil improver (nitrogen). After I harvested all these beans I pulled up the plants and lay them across the garden bed. Then I raked wood chips over them (carbon). With this as one of our methods our soils are gradually improving season by season, making our garden increasingly productive.

A very merry solstice to you all.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Greywater recycling without storage problems

I doubt very much that if you're reading this blog from another country that you live in a drier climate than we do here in Australia. We are becoming increasingly sensitive to the finite resource that is water. Companies bore it from underground stores of collective wealth, pay councils little for it and privatise it in anthropogenic plastic bottles. You can read more about my ongoing bottled water campaign here. Governments stand by and give out long term leases to companies to harvest water for massive profits. It's yet another unsustainable industry that goes against all sensitive and considered social and ecological principals. I call the bottled water industry a perfect example of 'pop fascism'.

So to cut to more positive water-based activities. Yesterday I plumbed in a hose (that I brought at a garage sale for $5) from our bath outlet to the swale. I spent a few more dollars at the local hardware for some connectors. Now, every time we have a bath or a shower the water runs out into and along the swale and seeps under the thickly mulched beds, which will soon be planted with numerous indigenous grasses and sedges, and exotic fruit trees, vegetables and herbs. Keeping produce alive in the summer months has in the past required much dependency on labourious (handheld hose restrictions) watering. This simple, cheap, gravity-fed system of recycling water will cut time, encourage worms and other organisms to thrive in the soil and provide a healthy environment for the plant life. I have been trying to figure out the best way to reuse our greywater, and knew that if I collect it in a tank it would stagnate and become septic unless we were constantly moving it around. By passively harvesting our greywater along the swale, in the soil and with daylight and microbial life engaging with it, it solves all the problems of storing this precious resource.

Just about any small garden can incorporate a swale. If you're considering harvesting your greywater consider a swale rather than a tank. The money and carbon you will save is considerable. Our swale and hose set-up cost about $50. You can do it for less if you hand dig the swale on contour. And yes, it still works in flat gardens, although you'll need to be able to gravity feed your bath water to the swale.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Two weeks on (swale work)

Click for bigger.

Two weeks ago we put a swale in and remarkably we have had regular good rain since. This much rain is very unusual for this time of year. It has spurred me on to build more food beds and other functional things (such as an all-weather path running down to the chooks) along the swale. I'm building next door and was able to use the leftover concrete mix (stone and sand) for our new path, laying it on piles of old newspaper. Tonight it rained again, and I was able to capture the swale holding water. It poured down, the swale filled up and over about 30 minutes the rain absorbed into the ground and under the thick mulch.