Tuesday, March 10, 2015


By Dave Beetleshack
With a passion for all things green, Dave will be sharing his journey as an (wannabe) urban farmer. A small 1/2 acre plot of sloping land and 3 wild kids won't hold him back. From planting to harvesting to preserving, Dave is our go-to guy when it comes to the garden. On a large scale, his dream is to raise awareness of the need for reconnection of local people with local food, to benefit the general health and well-being of the community as well as the earth. You can follow his journey more closely over at Blindberry Farm.

Many of you will have seen some of what is happening in our front yard Kitchen Garden over the last few years, but I thought it time that I introduced you all to what is happening down the back. I have been planning for some now on how to best utilise the back half of our tired old scrubby half acre hillside, and last week I finally had the earthworks component completed.

Below is a little vid I made of the refining process for the swale / contour pasture design. Once the contour survey was done I was able to properly lay out swales, mounds and pastures zones, all on contour along with the water catchment. Though similar in concept to my original plans, it dramatically changed what I had previously laid out which demonstrates the importance of understanding actual site conditions. Being a narrow block (19m) means I don't have a lot to play with, but with some management I should be able to capture much of the currently un-utilised neighbours run off water for my use.

In the mounds will be planted a range of subtropical / warm temperate fruit and nut trees, along with nitrogen fixing fodder trees for stock. Each mound will have above it a swale to collect and slow water, allowing it to soak into the foot of the mound and also be captured in the ponds. The ponds will be home to ducks (and various other wildlife), and will also be used to "fertigate" (fertilise & irrigate) the pastures and mounds. Water for drinking by stock will be gravity fed from tanks higher on the block with town water as back-up supply.

Between each mound will be a pasture zone used for grazing of stock and rapid building of topsoil and biomass. The pastures will be seeded with a mix of native and naturalised perennial grasses.

In due course I will put up a full planting list along with stock types and densities as I experiment. At this stage, we plan to be raising chickens (fertiliser, meat & eggs), ducks (fertiliser, meat & eggs), rabbits (fertiliser & meat) and perhaps a few sheep/goats for meat and milk. All of these will be "mob stocked" on the pasture zones based on the growth cycle of the perennial pasture.

So there you have it - that's what's going on around these parts!


Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, advice and solidarity.

xo em