27 November 2014

Then and now...

back garden

When we first saw our nest, we fell in love with three things; the location, the well-lit, quaint 50's interior and the flat backyard. Here in Hobart, so many of the blocks are steep, so a flat backyard is a rare find. We overlooked the lack of a climbing tree and the vast quantity of lawn and we moved right in…

Since then, our garden has seen much transformation. We've always had the odd raised bed veggie patch which has raised a neighbour's eyebrow or two. We've put chickens to work and planted a few trees (and placentas and beloved pets) up the back. We've added a trampoline. And we've generally lamented the whole day it took to mow the huge expanse.

We've deduced that the previous owners - as would have been the case for many families of their era - would have been happy to work five days a week, spend Saturdays mowing the lawn and Sundays at the local church and pottering... For us, life is just too full and our lifestyle couldn't be much more removed from that rhythm. We'd so much rather grow food to nourish our bodies than buy all of it in and spend all the energy made tending a flat expanse of lawn. So we trained ourselves up in permaculture and, in the last 12 months, we did this.

This is one corner of the garden. There's a food forest, a chook/orchard system and a spiral-shaped vegetable garden there. The soil is improving with each season and rather than water running down to a puddle in one corner, we keep most of it on-site to nurture the trees we've planted. There are lots of fruit trees. About 6 months of apples and then nectarine, pear, plum, quince, cherries and apricot. There are all sorts of berries and currants, rhubarb to feed the neighbourhood and more artichokes than we know what to do with. There's a pond with frogs in it! There are herbs for every meal and for medicine. And there's that calming, grounding space to wander through and tend at the end of the day.

It is FAR from perfect. Full of weeds we've come to find useful and twitch we'd rather live without. There are things planted too close together or not on time. There are mistakes. And there are wins. But most of all, there is life and slowing down. There is shade and abundance. And there's a garden to tend that nourishes and teaches us everyday.

Don't forget to sign up and join us for our Spiral Garden Seedlings Permaculture e-course, starting mid-January. We'll be sharing some knowledge and loads of activities we've had fun sharing with our owlets while we explain the ethics and principles of permaculture to them. There's even a minecraft component too! Hope you can join us! xx

20 November 2014

An Owlet Permaculture Advent-ure

It's that time of year where we start thinking about the days leading up to the end of our year. We've been working ever so hard lately. Every spare minute is spent writing, wrapping, emailing, ordering and then doing all those other things we do with our Owlets. Our nest could do with some attention and we're not gardening nearly as much as we'd like. But, you know, time keeps rolling on and we're doing an ok job of things…

But, in the busy-ness of it all, at this time of year, we always love to make time to celebrate. We celebrate the year that's nearly finished and look forward to the year to come. We give a little extra attention to our animals and plants and take stock. We celebrate summer's arrival and the festivals that are important to us and our loved ones. We set aside a little time for adventure and we create an activity advent calendar to guide us through our days. It's a fab way to stop and have fun while getting things done and taking some of the emphasis off Christmas day. The whole month is exciting!


In recent years, we've enjoyed following our own loose interpretation of the Waldorf/Steiner advent celebration. We choose some activities that match the theme or element of the week:

The first light of Advent is the light of stones. 
Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones. 
The second light of Advent is the light of plants. 
Roots, stem, leaf, flower and fruit by whom we live and grow. 
The third light of Advent is the light of beasts. 
Animals of farm, field, forest, air and sea. 
All await the birth in greatest and in least. 
The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind. 
The light of love, the light of thought, to give and to understand.

But this year, we're thinking we'd like to mix it up with a little permaculture-based thinking. Some of these may not be obvious, but they will make for good reminders or discussion for our little permaculturalist owlets. We'll be reflecting on the permaculture ethics (earth care, people care and fair share) and some of the principles we've covered with them so far in our Seedlings course.


So here's our plan for December:

 1. Paint everyone's toenails - that's totally stones, right? And the permaculture ethic of "people care" too! It's our favourite way to say "Yay! Summer!"
2. Paint stone garden markers - hmmm… maybe something like this
3. Make some clay ornaments for the Christmas tree. - Handmade all the way, and these are cute! 
4. Stargazing in the backyard - reminding us to pause and observe this wonderful universe we're part of.
5. Go on a shell/fossil/gemstone fossick - A day trip adventure for this one - observation and slowing down.
6. Compost! - move the compost heap, start a new one and nourish the soil around our plants for the season.
7. Go fruit picking - foraging or visit a fruit farm.
8. Make a wreath using plants or recycled materials. - in the past we've used fabric scraps and newspaper.
9. Make some jam - preferably using our foraged fruit. These will make great gifts. Here's one we made earlier.
10. Make some wrapping paper - hand printed or painted - maybe a plant theme this year?
11. Plant a tree - A little gratitude for the earth and it's bounty.
12. Collect a Christmas tree - we usually forage a weedy roadside pine tree that we can mulch for the garden later.
13. Have a picnic brunch under a tree - Yay! Nature!
14. Plant a herb and weed foraging garden for the chooks, full of all the things they'll love.
15. Decorate the Christmas tree - with all our handmade ornaments.
16. Make a bird feeder - sharing with our feathered friends while encouraging them away from the food forest.
17. Visit the Marine Discovery Centre or go rock pooling - A little animal observation and finding out what lives in our river.
18. Donate some food, money or time to the local animal shelter. - fair share for animals.
19. Donate a gift to the ABC Giving Tree - fair share for children less fortunate than our owlets.
20. Make a gift for someone you love - handmade secret squirrel stuff!
21. Go looking at Christmas lights - community spirit and sparkly statements of christmas cheer. Good times!
22. Celebrate Summer Solstice - a little gift and maybe a beach picnic?
23. Have a dance party in the lounge room - some crazy fun and lots of giggles. People care! 
24. Give some handmade gifts to the neighbours - a chance to share our surplus, say thanks, hello and Merry Christmas!


Maybe you'd like to join in with us? We'd really love that! Swap the days around or substitute activities for whatever works best for you and yours.

If you've signed up for our Spiral Garden Seedlings permaculture course, this will be a good introduction before our mid-january start. It'll give you some lovely things to share with the Seedlings community and some fun times and happy memories too! Tag us @spiralgarden and #spiralgardenseedlings if you feel like sharing as we go! xx