MAKING A LIVING

The first ripe bananas and we made the most wonderful banana bread !

We had another meeting yesterday. I like these meetings, they are fun and informative and very necessary to keep everybody up to date with what is happening and what is planned for the week. We open and close with a bit of a meditation, close your eyes, order your thoughts and get back to present, it just puts everybody on the same vibe.

One of the subject under discussion was the making of Charcoal, from Black Wattle (Invasive species).  There are obviously lots of questions surrounding this and if you do make charcoal, do you just supply yourself or sell it and what is the impact/implications.  At first glance the making of Charcoal  sound like a contradiction to what we are trying to achieve and there are questions regarding the amount of pollution, but it can be a great job creator, it is a way of doing something use full with the Wattle, and it does sound like the two guys proposing the idea have done some serious research and there is a long term plan of restoring the land after the Wattle is gone. We will have to invite them over and go thought the whole story again.

 

Kiln for Charcoal making, you can also see the Black Wattle around it, there is nothing else that grows under these trees.

 

The wind is howling again, this is a bit annoying, because I want to go and potter around in the seedling house, but the wind keeps on blowing sand in my eyes !, but at least I get time to catch up here.

0ne of the people living here (Ole) is a Vipassana Meditation instructor. There was a group of people here on Sunday, just for a one day meditation retreat and there will be a 10 day retreat here over the New Year period.  I do not think I will survive just sitting for 10 days, but each one to his own. KD is also busy building a whole retreat area out of natural building materials and methods, they are hoping to have this finished before the Vipassana,

In the meantime we are also looking at ways of earning income, while living here. Riaan seems to be quite confident about his walking trails, I also think they can work wonderfully well, we just have to work out all the details and set the plan in action. There is also the possibility of training people from the area, to act as guides and get them registered to that they can operate independently.

I was looking at an Internet based business, but right now I am not even getting around to my blog, never mind other forms of networking, maybe I am just a bit tired of the computer at the moment and would rather be playing/working in the garden, but obviously not today, to windy.

We (Riaan and I) have set ourselves a target for end October, to have something up and running. This is really a wonderful and healthy way of life, but we still need income, this is all turning out to be quite a bit more expensive than we expected.

 

 

Niki at the Pema culture course

Niki seems to be quite keen on growing Oyster mushrooms, which is also something that will tie in nicely with the Charcoal making, because you have a lot of wood chip, which you can use to grow the mushrooms on.  The only problem with producing something here, is the fact that you have to get it to East London and to do that, you will have to drive there, so you support the Petro Chemical companies a lot and that can almost be counter productive to everything else you do and the roads are not good, especially the first 20 km, so there is also a lot of wear and tear on your car.

 

There is a library here that is quite amazing. I found some books (while cleaning and sorting, with Anne’s help). At the moment I am busy reading Brave New World (Aldous Huxley), next on my list is Keys of Enoch and another book I have been looking for, but forgot the name of the book and  the writer, it is called Slave Species of the God, by a South African writer, Michael Tellinger.  That is just to mention a few, obviously there is a lot of books about spiritual development, green gardening, building your own home, alternative energy,  natural medicine and much more…

 

Part of the library 

 

 

 

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BIRDS AND BEES


 

The Bird bath

I eventually found the right spot for the bird bath and I found the bath.  Kevan had this big cement pot type thing just lying around, he graciously donated it to the garden and the birds, but we had to carry it all the way from his house to the garden, uphill all the way – that was my exercise for the day!  We also found a beautiful old tree trunk for the base. It turns out that you can see the bird bath from the garden entrance, from the main gate and from the house. It was not exactly planned that way, as I said, I was waiting for the bird to tell me where to put it and they picked the perfect spot.

We have a lot of bees around and more and more seem to be moving here every day, love them, but sometimes they are just in a bad mood, like this morning, you cannot come near them.  Riaan was cleaning out some vegetation behind the house and he got stung on the forehead and Dharma (Niki’s dog) got stung on the backside.  Kevan says they are more aggressive when they have lots of honey to protect. I was a bit of a coward, I just stayed far away, will talk to them when they are calmer. Yes, I know you think I am a bit Looney, but I promise you I talk to birds and bees and they respond.

I think we are being “invaded” by bees because it is probably the only farm in the area that does not use pesticides.  I have also noticed a new hive in the big old Aloe Tree in the garden.

There are no volunteers here at the moment, so progress is slow, but it is all good. Anne and I sat down yesterday just to co-ordinate our Diaries, for arrivals and departures of guests, members and volunteers. In October we pick up steam and November and December are going to be two very busy months. So we will enjoy the peace and quiet while we can.

It also looks like we might be moving out of the main house and into one of the other houses/cottages on the property.  There is a family of six joining us in November and they will need the house much more than we do. The main house is also a bit like a train station, always a coming and a going, so we are quite happy to exchange space for privacy.

 

 

San (him and his family will be joining the community soon)

 

This, depending on where we move to, might mean that we will soon be doing a bit of building, with natural material naturally, more than likely Cob, it is such a lovely material to work with, you can get very creative. Wood and bamboo are also options we can look at.

One of the available cottages is really just a rather big round space, with a bedroom upstairs. We will have to build a kitchen and bathroom. This does mean that we will be roughing it for a while, but Riaan and I are both looking forward to learning to work with cob and other natural materials.  We are lucky in the sense that there are a lot of people around with a lot of experience in this regard.

I will obviously still be involved in the main garden.

 

 

Progress in the garden

SLUGS TO DEAL WITH


The cat the snail and the ball

I have slugs to deal with. Strange naked snails with eyes on sticks, they watch you, while chewing on your succulent lettuce. I wish they will just go eat the weeds, but the problem is that they like my veggies better.  Now I have to use scare tactics. I do not really want to kill them; I just want them to go away.

We made this chili concoction, pretty much chilli and garlic cooked on the solar cooker for the whole day, and then you strain and spray on and around plants. This really works, but it does seem to kill the poor buggers, must be a horrible way to go, death by chili…..

Then we decided to try and make slug traps with beer, from what I hear, they love the stuff. You take a plastic container, like a yogurt container and you cut openings near the top of the container. Dig a whole and plant the container so that the openings are level with the ground. Now you add some beer and put on the lid. You can even cover the lid with mulch and/or soil. The idea is that they come for the beer, fall in the container, and get very drunk very quickly (hopefully) pass out and “wake up dead”. I guess this beats the hell out of death by chili… or does it?

 

Tarantula, natural enemy to slugs, smelling the flowers

The long term solution will be to attract slug eating birds and insects to the garden, working on that, with the bird bath etc.

The chili also works on “aerial attack” insects. Mostly the smell just puts them off, but they seem to die if they actually make contact with the chili, but I guess the chili is the better option for now. There are a few casualties (on the side of the slugs), but at least it is not mass murder like with the beer. Fact is there are enough other plants for them to eat, not exactly like they are going to starve without my spinach.

Then there is “barb wire” for snails! You simply unravel your potting scourer and put it around the bed or plant and you fence them out, but what if you fence them in?

DO NOT FORGET TO WASH YOUR HAND after spraying with the chili…  And if you do forget, do not worry; you will not forget the second time….

We have a new volunteer, Jenna, she is American, but studies at UCT, busy with her masters in Sociology and Tim is putting her to work planting trees and harvesting soil from worms. She is engaged to a South African.

It is just the most perfect day outside, so I am off to the garden and maybe the beach later.

 

 

 

 

SOIL AND SEEDLINGS

Bird bath

I think it is time for some more green tips.

The most important thing in any garden it the quality of your soil.

In order to make good soil you need 3 things, namely cow/horse manure or wormy cast (more about this just now) soil and sand, one part of each, mix well and use. This is great for planting seedlings and replanting just about everything.

If you however want the perfect soil, start a worm farm or two.

The worm farm, as I think I said before, is not exactly a farm full of worms, but something the size of a bath tub or big drum. You feed all you leftover kitchen waste (accept for onions and citrus) to the worms. The worms do not actually eat the leftovers, but that is another story, the fact is the whole process that happens on this “farm” creates perfect soil. Okay, now you have a tub full of worms and perfect soil, how to separate the soil from the worms? Put down a plastic sheet, now you take the soil (with worms and all) from the worm farm and put it in piles on the plastic. The earthworms hate the sun, so they will always go the bottom of the pile. You just harvest the soil from the top and put the worms back in the farm.

Earth worms also love cow manure.

I do understand that you can also buy a ready to use worm farm on the internet –

http://www.worm-farm.co.za/?gclid=CM76yoq3xasCFYUKfAodyXGn2w

The idea is then to replace the manure in your potting soil with this wormy cast. You can also boost your plants by throwing a handful (or so, depending on the size of the plant) around any plant and then watering it.

I feel generous, so here are a few more –

Even wondered exactly how deep or shallow to plant your seeds? Here is a very good guide line; the size of the seed + ½ will be the right dept.

 

Some of the first seedling

Some plants do well when planted directly into the soil and others grow better if you make seedlings first. Carrots are a bit of a headache, the seeds are very small, so it should be better to make seedlings first, but they do not transplant well, so I came up with the following plan – you plant the seeds in old egg containers and when the seedling are a bit bigger you plant them box and all.  This also helps to space them better otherwise you end up with clusters of odd shaped carrots. Just remember to make holes at the bottom of the cardboard. I am either going to have an overdose of carrots or none at all, will have to wait and see, but I think it will work.

PEAS AND SPINASH


 

Pea Flower

Today was serious planting day, it being new Moon. I must say I am not hard and fast on the moon planting business, but I have noticed that thing seem to transplant better and adapt quicker when planted at new Moon. I eventually planted the two cucumber seedlings I have been nursing like babies. They are rather hard to grow, need temperatures above 25 Cel. to germinate. My poor babies must now face the big bad world full of slugs and things all on their own.

There was a bit of a problem with a Bushbuck or two visiting the garden at night and munching away whole Spinach and trampling everything around it.  Riaan came up with a brilliant plan. You take some solar garden lamps and plant them near the spinach, the buck’s instincts won’t allow him near the light, I was skeptical, but it works! It does however not scare the porcupines, but they only dig holes looking for sweet Potatoes, which is only a problem if they destroy other plants in the process, which seldom happens. We have Sweet potatoes everywhere, so they are welcome to some.

 

The solar lamp with the Spinash

There are suddenly peaches everywhere, we don’t quite know what to do with it all, the birds are taking their share, that is for sure, we have managed to make a few bottles of Chutney. To be honest it was Seth and Claire that made the Chutney, on the solar cooker.  They also made the most amazing Pizza; Riaan will have to pull out all the stops tomorrow night.

 

 

Masters with a Pizza oven

I am sure I have mentioned that Niki and Kevan are experimenting with growing Oyster mushrooms, well it has been trial and error, but I am very glad to announce that they have harvested their first batch. This is very good news, one of the big problems here is that we are still part of planet earth and you still need some source of income.  This is creating an income for Niki and Kevan and the whole process takes place here. They are now even looking at growing their own spores. That is quite technical and you need a mini laboratory and everything must be sterile otherwise the spores die. As I said quite a complicated story to grow mushrooms, that is probably why they are quite expensive. We had fresh Oyster mushrooms on the Pizza…

 

 

Kevan looking very happy with the first mushrooms

It is hard to believe, but we have been here for almost five months.

 

FREE STUFF AND STORMS

 

Haga Haga beach, on the way to a full moon picnic on the beach

 

Riaan in his birthday outfit

It was Riaan’s birthday and a full moon and perfect weather, so we had a full moon picnic on the beach. Anne baked us a cake and we used big banana leafs for plates.

As I have mentioned many times before, one of the changes of living in paradise is the fact that you are still part of planet earth and you still need to earn some money. Actually, lot of people would love to create an income from home, using their computer, but you always need a website and then you need a registered domain name, there are some cheap (and they look cheap) ones available, then I came across this – http://www.freedomain.co.nr, this can effectively turn any blog address into a web address.

I did this with my Google blog, but I obviously haven’t done it here yet, just trying to get some content up first.

The super nice bit is that you effectively have two addresses, which will help on the SEO’s, because it gives you double exposure on the search engines. Instead of having a address like https://ecoexperience.wordpress.com, it will be http://www.ecoexperience.co.nr

Look so much better! You can essentially turn any basic blog, into something that looks a lot more like a website and it is really free.  The only “catch” is that you have to put a back-link from your site to their site; I do this with the greatest of pleasure. You can see the link on my Google blog – http://chasingthegreendragon.co.nr

The other great advantage here is that you pretty much get the name you want, I tried chasingthegreendragon on Google blog and there was already another 1 000 in existence, now I have the name I want!

We had a massive storm last night, some broken windows, lots of trees blew over.

 

TIMBER

This is more of a picture story.

I cannot work out how to upload a gift (slideshow), you can make it easy enough but you need to upload it somewhere else before you can upload it here, because you need an URL. I guess that is why Youtube is doing so well.

 

 

Pascal hanging on

Maxi running for cover…

TIMBER !

 

We had this old, long dead Blue Gum tree standing in the middle of everything. It is kind of sad to see it go, it was very much part of the skyline, made a pretty picture. The problem is that every time we get lots of wind, bit and pieces of branches fall down. This can become very dangerous. Now we have a lot of firewood.

 

 

 

 

SWALES AND MORE

Occupy a garden, that is my advice and right now the plants are listening!

 

Green and growing

It is not raining it is pouring, nonstop, thank goodness for good swales! A swale is a depression/ditch that runs along the exact contour of a piece of land. That is to say, it is level all along its length. It is a water collection device and it works like this; Rain falls on your property, but instead of running straight down the slope and right through everything, it runs into the swale and gathers. There it soaks in slowly, forming a lens of water underneath the swale. Your plants do not get flooded and the swales collects eroded soil.

Digging swales is one of the very first things you should do, it should be part of your garden design. We had a long enough dry spell to get us a bit worried and now it is raining and raining and still raining. Our low water bridge is flooded, but that is not all, there is a little side stream, this normally does not even run, even that is in full flood, there is water everywhere but the garden is fine, thanks to the swales.

 

 

New swale

At least all the rainwater tanks are full and overflowing. I think if we had another 60 tanks we would have filled those too. Here is my one problem with thatch roofs, you cannot collect your rain water, actually you can, but it is a whole complicated story with special gutters and the water is always a brown color.

Niki went to town yesterday and last night Kevan and Riaan had to launch a whole rescue mission to get her and her friend (who came to visit) across the river. She had to leave the car on the other side. We have always been worried about getting stuck on the farm, but I have now realized it is much worse to be stuck outside – your house is so near, yet so far.

We have been made an offer to look after another house here at KD, until October next year and by then we should be ready to build our own place. The question is, do we still want to be here until then and will we/I survive until then? Funny how quick things and plans can change.

 

 

 

HOW TO PLANT A TREE

I have to shamefully admit that I have been neglecting the garden a bit lately, all the rain had an influence, but there was also so many other things than needed attention. I need to get in there today, we need to replants some Keerboom trees, they are legumes (enrich the soil/nutrient fixer) and they make good windbreakers and they grow quite fast. They are also indigenous to this area.

 

 

Big old Aloe with the Wild fig at the back

There is this Wild fig tree right on the edge of the garden, right next to a 300 year old Aloe Tree. This created a big dilemma. It is a wonderful tree, with a very extensive root system and it was becoming competition for the Aloe Tree and for the garden.  Eventually somebody (not sure whom) got the courage together and ring braked the Fig tree. When you ring bark a tree it dies. It is a rather painful yet fascinating process to watch.  First the tree started dropping big branches, one after the other, in an effort to “cut the dead wood” and survive. This tree knew it is dying, the fruits where suddenly all ripe and ready and seeding, an attempt to replant before it dies. There is currently only the tree trunk and one very big branch left, this branch is already intertwined with the Aloe Tree and this is what is keeping it up.

 

 

Newly planted tree with companion plants (Marigolds) and mulch

I have only been telling you about the trees we took out, this one and the old Blue Gum. We have also planted at least 11 new indigenous trees in and around the retreat area. Here is some general advice on how to plant a tree.

·         Always plant trees at least 6 feet apart

·         Dig a square whole, not a round one, roughly 60 cm x 60 cm, but obviously take the size of the tree in consideration

·         Put some rusted nails or other iron in the whole, some plants absorb the iron, but will not if not needed

·         Plant the tree and fill in the whole.

·         What I use for compost is plain old fashioned cow dung, courtesy Meduna’s cows. You can also use Horse or chicken manure.

·         Add a small amount of Bone Meal to your compost

·         Put the compost around the tree, but not too close to the trunk, depending on what you use, it might be a bit too strong and burn the trunk.

·         Put some mulch in a circle, over the compost and around the tree, a fairly big circle.

·         Make another circle outside the tree circle, this is where you are going to plant your companion plants

COMPANIONS FOR TREES

Garlic, Marigolds, Nasturtiums and (Mustard especially for fruit trees) and never forget the Comfrey. The comfrey also forms a sort of barrier so that the grasses and “weeds” are kept at bay.

You can also make a fantastic liquid fertilizer, just soak the leafs in water for about 2 weeks and give this liquid to the plants.

 

Fever tree

 

MATURAL FARMING COURSE

A NATURAL FARMING COURSE

 

TIM WIGLEY

is offering a Natural Farming and Gardening Course at his homestead on Khula Dhamma Eco Community Farm.

This course is being offered to young adults. It will be a small group of young people dedicated to finding another way of living in an uncertain world.

Tim says: “While there will be a focus on Permaculture principles and methods, we’ll be doing this in the context of other disciplines that also seek to work with nature and understand how eco-processes work. We’ll also look at why it is necessary to move beyond the current narrow definition of organic.”

The course is stimulating and engaging. You will work outdoors on the farm and you will watch movies to stretch your paradigms and imagination. You might swim in the farm dam and spend time under the stars at night. You’ll go home stronger and fitter and more tanned then you’ve been the whole summer!

Dates: 23rd January – 3rd February 2012.                                                      Arrive on 22nd and leave morning of the 4th February

Place: Earth Harmony Homestead on Khula Dhamma Eco Community Farm in the Eastern Cape (60km north of East London)

Costs

R2 420 which includes course fee and accommodation.                  Please bring your own vegetarian food.                                                 Some scholarships are available.

Contact Anne Keating at wildgoose@keimouth.co.za for details.

Anne 072 142 8587                                              Tim 083 287 4308

 

Recommendations from past participants

“Tim Wigley is a South African Geoff Lawton.                                                                                Immersion in his course was a life-changing experience;                                                                                   10 days exploring assumption-shifting concepts combined with practical hands-on demonstrations in a diverse two-year-old forest garden.                                                                                     If like me you were searching for a guide in the fulfilling and exciting journey of upskilling yourself in the design science of ecologically intelligent interaction with landscape,
I would recommend Tim as a key mentor. “

Bruce Haynes, 23 years old,

Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellow, 2011 Brightest Young Minds Alumni,

Botany and Photojournalism Student, Rhodes University.

” Khula Dhamma is a habitat for the soul. I really enjoyed my time
spent woofing there because I was able to zone into my space and feed
off the tranquility of the community. Each day was a new opportunity
to learn about the trade of growing healthy nutritious food, and the
art of simplicity. My thanks to Tim and Anne Wigley, and the rest of
the Khula Dhamma community for an inspiring week amongst the coastal
hills just outside the Kei.”

Christopher Harris

Rhodes University

 

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