As is the process of buying property, things take time. Since I last posted not a lot has happened, but the settlement date for the property looms closer.
The Vegepod that you saw in last month’s update has provided us with fruit, vegetables and herbs for the last month and is now in the process of being shut down in anticipation of moving. Unfortunately some of the things we planted have had to be sacrificed, such as brassicas that were not yet ready to yield, but would be too difficult to transplant. But we will be taking some of the plants with us and also the worms, which of course means moving about 300kg of soil and the remaining plants over 200km, and of course deconstructing the Vegepod and putting it back together again on the other side. Such is life.
I have been busy putting together a base map of the new place, and additional maps with closer views of the key garden areas.
In the image above, you can see the land area, the placement of the house and gardens. All that exists at the moment is the house and garage, and the few trees that are already in place. The deck is a lot smaller than what I have indicated, with the remainder to be built by me at a later date. The water tanks are not there yet, and the grey water systems (GWS) on the plan do not yet exist either. Both the front and back gardens are currently grassed on what looks like very compacted soil, the composition of which I have not yet determined, though based on what I can find online, it looks like the soil quality is poor (which is unusual for the area which is well known to be very fertile). This isn’t a problem though as I’ll be putting together a no-dig garden with raised beds in the back, and the front will be an orchard area with mixed fruit and native trees, and a few chooks to fertilise the land and keep the grass down.
You can see from a completely empty front garden it will soon be transformed into a fruit tree orchard interspersed with reasonably low height native trees so as to not provide too much shade, and also not shade out the solar panels on the roof of the house. As I mentioned the soil quality is likely to be poor and compacted, which will require me to put down compost and dig out reasonably big holes for each tree as it is planted (not really looking forward to that part!). There will also be some wire arches to grow berries.
I plan to put chickens in the front garden once it is suitably fenced and I think I will go with a whole garden chicken run to protect the birds from predators and to prevent escape. That should give them about 100-140m2 to roam and forage amongst the trees. At the Australian free range standard of 10,000 hens per hectare, that means that I should be able to house about 100 chooks which is obviously madness. Using the far more humane pasture raised standard of around 1,500 hens per hectare I should be able to house 15, but I will more than likely only put 5 or 6 birds on the property. Enough so they can form a flock and have company, and a sufficient egg supply, but not enough to destroy the area. That equates to a stocking density of about 500-600 hens per hectare, which is still a lot higher than some of the ethical farms but I think a maximum of 6 birds of that size land should be acceptable to them and me.
There will be a grey water system that will process water from the bathroom sink and shower only. Black water from the toilet will not be processed on site and will be sent to the municipal water treatment site via the sewerage system.
The back garden will be transformed from a grassed area to a raised bed garden, retaining some of the existing fruit trees and adding a few more, with a few native and non-native shrubs and flowers dotted around. There will be a much smaller portion of grass around the deck once it is constructed. The Vegepod will live here with another grey water system that takes water from the laundry only (kitchen water will go to sewer as it’s too difficult to capture and some sources say you shouldn’t capture kitchen water, though washing of veg might be done in the laundry basin which will divert to the grey water system). Around the deck will be a garden bed with many flowering plants to provide fragrance to the deck area.
There will be nine 2.4 x 1.2m beds and ten 2.4 x 0.6m beds for growing veg, and a greenhouse with long beds along three edges, and my Mr Stacky vertical hydroponic garden will be in there too.
There will be a worm farm in addition to the one in the Vegepod, and a bee hive for pollination of the plants. Along the fence there will be a line of Borage as we know the bees love that.
All water for the back and front gardens will be from two 11,250 litre tanks, and there will be one 3,000 litre tank for household water that will draw from the other tanks when required. We will also remain connected to municipal water as a backup and so we can convert back to a “normal” house if we decide to move elsewhere in the future. In fact all changes I make will be easily reverted if necessary.
Finally, in the area of the back garden behind the garage will be where one of the water tanks is placed to collect water from the garage, and also where I will be placing the compost bays.