Category Archives: Nutrient Cycling

Trying out the Hungry bin Wormfarm

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Is it possible to recycle 100% of a small family’s organic kitchen waste with just a simple, single worm farm? I’ve always wondered.

I’ve done 50% of our scraps easily – but the whole lot? That’s… a lot of scraps, in our house.

Well, it seems you can, if the design is right. We’ve been trialling a Hungry bin worm farm for a week or two now, and we’re darn impressed with the results. Continue reading

There’s no such thing as waste, only stuff in the wrong place…

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Well composted humanure is one of the most excellent tree planting  resources you can have, on a site like ours.

So much so that, when we clear out the Humanure Hacienda once a year, it’s compost is reserved specifically for helping new and precious trees to grow…  Continue reading

Holy Shit: a book review

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What is most intriguing to me about this little book is that, once again, good writing has allowed me to re-discover a subject that I thought I had it together on.

I mean, we farm naturally at Milkwood. We know and we love and we dig manures. Regularly, even. Yet, reading this really excellent book, I’m reminded again of just how important and essential it is to cycle manures as part of replenishing what we take from the earth. And how completely we’ve forgotten that in the last 100 years.

And how urgently we need to get our shit together on this subject, quicksmart… Continue reading

Researching: Dovecotes as wild nutrient collectors

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Dovecotes are a great addition to any small farm (and possibly your backyard too). Keeping doves is like keeping chickens, in a way, except there’s minimal feeding involved if you take the traditional approach. The doves fly off every morning, forage within their natural radius, and come home each night to roost.

And when they come home, they deliver to the floor of the dovecote free nutrients, in the form of guano. So firstly there’s free fertilizer, with no feeding costs. Secondly. if you’re that way inclined, there’s a seasonal supply of dove eggs, and squabs. Wild protein, delivered to your door.  Continue reading

Humanure Cumquat Harvest

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Last Spring Nick gave a Tedx talk about stewarding our most available nutrients to grow food for our communities in a closed-loop system. Yes, he was talking about humanure. And during said talk, Nick had a healthy, humanure-grown cumquat tree on stage with him.

During the talk, some of the cumquats from this tree were passed around the audience and munched on, to illustrate the point that when processed safely in a biological system, humanure can contribute hugely to the fertility of the soil that grows great fruit trees. Continue reading

Souping up the worm farm

While worm farms are pretty normal to find nowadays in many yards, their capacity to cycle essential nutrients and make nutrient dense soil additives available to you, for free, can’t be understated. Worm farms rock, seriously.

Our bathtub wormfarm next to the kitchen garden, with it’s built in vertigation (direct worm juice injection into the irrigation system for the veggie beds), has been going strong for a couple of years now. However Michael needs lots of worm castings (worm poo) as an ingredient for his soil block mix for seedlings, so we’re souping up production. Continue reading

EcoPOP – cooling Sydney’s streets…

An ecoPOP is a small and self-contained city oasis, boasting a simple, self-contained system of self-watering fruit trees, herbs, water collection and a worm farm.

Intended to be installed in places like a median strip in a suburban street, they’re designed to incrementally offset the ‘heat island’ effect of urban streets, slow traffic, and create community. Continue reading

Building a Jenkins-style Lovable Loo for the Tinyhouse

The lovable loo humanure toilet was designed by Joseph Jenkins. This design is, for my money, simply the best domestic-scale compost toilet ever. It’s so, so simple. It’s easy to build and easy to maintain, results in awesome compost, and means that we don’t have to poo in drinking water. What’s not to love?

It’s also incredibly cheap and quick. Nick built ours in a morning, from scrap material and a bought toilet seat, the day before we moved into the Tinyhouse. We’ve been using variations of this toilet design since we moved to Milkwood, but this is the first one we’ve built in a really truly bathroom. And it works a treat. Continue reading

Vertigation: passive injection worm juice irrigation for the kitchen garden

Anyone with compost worms knows how valuable the worm juice from their wormfarm can be as part of veggie growing. The trick is remembering to add it, and having a good method of applying it.

Last year Nick devised a way to passively add worm juice into our kitchen garden irrigation supply, via a rather clever little DIY setup. Continue reading

On-Farm Composting: the story so far…

On-farm composting is a big part of our farm’s nutrient cycling, and an essential technique for ensuring nutrient density for our veggies and tree crops. Over the past couple of years we’ve tried and trialled various methods of hot-composting, with varied success.

As our composting needs have grown alongside our vegetable outputs, we’ve had to figure out how to scale-up our composting operations so that we can one day soon be self-sufficient in compost needs for Milkwood Farm. One hand-turned pile just doesn’t cut it any more! Continue reading

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