Saturday, January 2, 2010

no dig, ya dig?

one of the appeals of heading up to peats ridge fest under the guise of work mode was to 1. break my 21st century eco fest virgin bubble and 2. pick up a couple of refreshers in the multi-disciplinary field of permaculture. the good times/peeps which surrounded were a most convenient side-effect. reconnection with the earth & life force around are vital for any sustainable community.

i've been certified as a permaculture designer since 1988 when people outside of the biodynamic community didn't know bill mollison & david holgrem's names [modern day founders of the movement], but i haven't been actively practising throughout. this all changed in the last few years where outside of a limited city practise i now have the opportunity to pursue one of many dreams under challenging conditions: developing an eco community & sustainable lifestyle on a drought stricken temperate forest block just shy of the blue mountains national park. time to infuse new sensory experiences to jump-start old filed knowledge & brush away a few of the more obscuring cobwebs.

i'm currently in the process of building a long planned no dig multiple mandala garden complete with straw bale wintering chook shed after being partially influenced by the writing of australian, linda woodrow who over the last couple of decades has popularised the science/art of chook tractors in a rotational multi-cropping scenario for domestic/commerical application.

the heritage chicken source has been researched [probably going with australorps], the worms are breeding away happily munching down on organic leftovers both within the city borders and without. now all that needs to be done is to gather/harvest raw materials to build an oasis on what is essentially a concrete carpark. an impervious bedrock of hard claypan with no top soil in sight. enter no dig garden. if you want to know more check out esther deans who is one of the modern day matriarchs of the movement. i still have an adorable much thumbed version of her book from yesteryear.

utilising the super powers of chooks & worms there is about to be launched an incredible before and after scenario in the makeover journey of the decade. it doesn't actually take quite that long but there is a lot to do. in fact the cool thing about no dig is essentially after building a bed without technically breaking one's back is that it's almost immediately ready to go in terms of planting. generally it's good to wait a couple of weeks however to allow the microbes to kick in and stuff to break down. just a little.

not unlike a day of compost building no dig gardens are like the opposite of peeled onions -- you just keep piling on the layers laden with moisture between each one. a little newspaper, cow manure, compost, lucerne, seaweed, chook manure, pea straw, lawn clippings etc goes a long way... a delicious lasagna for the outdoor senses. just add water & sit back and watch...


  1. wow, memories. I was so into linda woodrow in the 90's. I'm such a city boy these days.

  2. it happens all too easily. you guys will have to come to the mountains! i promise i won't put you to work... unless you want to.

    i see you with an accordion in your hand up at the hermit's cabin shrouded in early morning mist. a tied-up semi-naked davey being tortured with a chainsaw in the background is semi-optional.