Tag Archives: trees

In which the long-nurtured fig cuttings bear fruit…

So a little while ago (ok quite some time ago – like 4 years) I took a bunch of fig cuttings from an old abandoned orchard across the creek, and potted them up. And they grew. So we planted them. And guess what? This week, we ate our first figs, and they were delish. Hooray!

When I took the cuttings from this magnificent old fig i knew the plant stock was hardy for our area. What I didn’t know at the time was whether the figs were any good or not. But, biomass is biomass, and we needed lots of it, so back in 2008 we hedged our bets and potted and then planted up about 40 fig cuttings. Continue reading

Visiting Happy Earth, a kick-ass suburban food forest garden…

Recently Nick + I went to visit Ally and Rich (aka Happy Earth) who have created a truly amazing food forest garden in their suburban lot near Wollongong, NSW. It is a beautiful place of lushness, food, and fun.

The thing I like most about Happy Earth is that Ally and Rich have transformed this place from a very normal, suburban house on a sloping block to a madly wonderful jungle dripping with food and beauty, and they’ve done it all bit by bit, with thoughtful intent. The result is just magic. Continue reading

Siberian Pea Tree seeds, discovered!

We have been searching for seeds of the Siberian Pea Tree (Caragana arborescens) for years. Permies in North America and Europe rave about this plant for it’s hardiness, growth, nitrogen fixing and forage capabilities. But find it in Australia, we could not. Until we found Phoenix Seeds!

Phoenix Seeds is a little seed company in Tasmania. Their catalog is awesome. They have no website. They seem ardently and unashamedly old-school. And I love them to bits. Because they, unlike every other Australian seed company I’ve talked to, stock Siberian Pea Shrub seeds… Continue reading

Seed Balls: how to grow trees without really trying

While we started off experimenting with annual and ground cover species seed balls, to date I’ve been most impressed by how useful they’ve proved to help us establish trees in unlikely areas.

As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve been trying to figure out how to establish trees and increase biomass on the rocky, soil-deprived parts of Milkwood without breaking our backs or our hearts. And I think seed balls might hold the key.

Continue reading

Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture: Book Review

Perennials, perennials, perennials. It’s all about perennials. Throw a stick near anyone enthused about permaculture or regenerative agriculture and they’ll squeak ‘perennials’ before they even duck.

This book is a very old, very readable, and very good edition to any library. It’s first edition came out in 1929, it reads like a combination of Foxfire, Joe Bageant , Joel Salatin and Bill Mollison, and it’s packed full of darn fine information relating to, yes, perennials. And hogs. Continue reading

Our forest garden design: the future is forested and foodlike

Over the last couple of months, we’ve been cooking up a re-design of our top food forest with Harris. Once we move into our tinyhouse, this food forest will be right outside our back door. So we want to get serious about making it a gorgeous place that drips with fun and food.

Up until now, however, it’s been hard to prioritize this project over everything else (including the building of that back door), so things have been rather slow. But thanks to Harris, we now have a design. And that takes us a lot closer to realizing this particular patch of abundance. Continue reading

Food forest design time

The main food forest at Milkwood Farm sits above our tinyhouse, in a sheltered, east-facing, sloping paddock, with lots of rocky bits and a sprinkling of useful trees. Not for much longer though. We’re determined to fast-track it into an incredible, luscious forest garden, dripping with fruit, herbs and shady green nooks.

Enter Dan Harris-Pascal (Harris), our friendly plant whisperer. Harris is currently re-designing this space into an intricate, resilient and abundant forest garden that is suited to our temperate and rather challenging climate. One forest of food for us, coming right up. Or as fast as our climate will allow, anyways. Continue reading

Surveying the site from scratch

Having grand plans is all very fine, but there comes a time when one must make the first, single, decisive gesture towards action.

For us, this meant placing a small wooden peg, painted white, at the southern boundary of Milkwood. And then surveying a contour which continued aaaallllll the way around the hillside at the same height as that first peg, right around to the other boundary of Milkwood on the western side of the ridge. This first contour was important to mark out for a couple of reasons: Continue reading

Baby birds in the Loquat tree

baby wattlebird

The Loquat tree next door at Kirwin is a mighty beast – and it is much beloved by many of the birds hereabouts. Its got dense green foilage year round, doesn’t give a toss about frost, becomes a humming tree in winter as the bees go crazy with all of its blooms, and then has masses of fruit before Christmas. If only I could strike it from cuttings… but apparently it grows well from seed – yay. It is definitely a power tree and i want as many as i can possibly have all over Milkwood.

While poking about in my nursery, which sits underneath this great specimen, today I discovered a new little friend on the ground. He’d fallen out of his nest which is way, way up at the very top of the tree (a sort of messy openwork arrangement of sticks), and from the look of his anxious mother, he is a red Wattlebird. Given that Cobba, the kelpie sheepdog, is also housed under the Loquat, i thought I’d make the little cheeper a temporary nest to prevent him from becoming Cobba’s supper. Continue reading

How to: grow Figs from cuttings

As I think I’ve mentioned, this part of Australia is, although it doesn’t look it at first glance, a labyrinth of abandoned settler’s orchards. Every farm around here seems to have at least two of these gnarly fruit-thickets over in a back paddock somewheres.

These old orchards are the only sign left of previous shacks and farmhouses which dotted the landscape here over a hundred years ago, during the gold-rush years. Continue reading


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