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a new caravan space

Hi all

When my brother first asked me to move here, He said he’d get a caravan for me to stay in. About a month later I told him I’d arrive in two weeks. When I arrived there was no caravan and I was living in the lounge room of a three bedroom house with him, his then wife and two teenagers. After two weeks I moved to the cubby house, which didn’t/doesn’t have windows or doors, but was dry and had a flat floor, even though it was winter and we get frosts here. It was under a large gum tree.

It’s true that monks should be content with sleeping under trees, but the Buddha is compassionate and would allow a sick monk more protection. Many lessor guidelines are put aside for safety or health.

After about three years, having rented it out to a workmate and having let his children use it, during which time someone was sick in it (the smell lingers on) and the fridge was filled with rotten food, my brother agreed for me to use the caravan – at least I’d look after it, I said. This was after doctors and the local government officials advised it was not suitable to live in the shed, due to the mold forming on the back wall, because of the leaky roof. Also ants (and termites) live in the wall/s and make the place smell with their formic acid. Thirdly, the shed is very dusty due to the garage door facing south, where most of our breezes come from. This is not to mention that snakes and toads etc. can easily make their way in, as the shed is ground level. So I put a sheet of corrugated iron across the doorway, to discourage them, which I have to step over.

Now the caravan has been relocated, further from the house and closer to my shed. My brother had an electric point installed to plug in the caravan, he and I put a roof over it and I and some WWOOFers paved the north side, about half each.

When WWOOFers stayed recently, I let them use the caravan and I moved back to the shed for three weeks. I’ve decided not to sleep in the shed anymore, but would rather sleep in my tent, either on the paved area of the caravan, or in the cubby house. The caravan paved area has at least three uses for me: meditation, afternoon rest and tent space.

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A friend came over to help with Sustainable House Day and I had previously told him he could stay in the caravan overnight. This is my place’s profile. So the WWOOFers used my tent. I pointed out the cubby house could be used, if they just reorganised the stuff in there, which would take about 5 minutes, but they decided to put the tent on the grass. The next day they said it was uncomfortable, due to the uneven ground!

I think I’m going to change my add on the WWOOF network, to specifically say, no smokers of pot/weed/dope/marijuana maybe even tobacco also. I have lived with drinkers and smokers enough to see the negative affects those bad habits have on relationships. Both affect clarity of thought and memory. When people do it often, this self-medication is an indication of mild depression, which they don’t want to admit. Probably, they think they don’t complain about others, but when they get drunk, it cannot be stopped. Thus they feel so much better after drinking. Usually they don’t have a place for (never-mind welcome) constructive criticism. Any constructive criticism offered is interpreted in a very negative way. So even if one tried to connect through honesty, it is twisted against one. So, I’m over it!

I guess this is why the Buddha choose to live alone most of the time, but welcomed people who made extra effort to visit him. They had to do so because he lived on the edge, literally (physically – the edges of towns) and mentally (psychologically, socially, economically). He is reported to have said, he does so, because he sees it provides a ‘pleasant life’.

Well my four year plan is to get an old ‘fisho’ van, a ute with insulated back boxed area, which is used to cold store fish to sell on the side of the road, install about 13 solar panels on it and travel up and down the east coast, WWOOFing and teaching about the Buddha’s teaching and Permaculture.

Now I am volunteering at a place that recycles computers and learning how to recycle laptop batteries to make Lithium-Ion battery packs, that can be used for any solar power project, including electric cars. They recently made a trailer replacement for a diesel generator. It’s a trailer with 13 solar panels that produces as much electricity as a diesel generator.

Best wishes

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my low maintenance garden bed

Hi all

I forgot to explain about my low maintenance veggie bed, when I spoke of water features during the Sustainable House Day tour at 9am on Sunday the 17th of September 2017. It combines these features: raised, wicking, hugelkultur (see google, literally ‘hill culture’), low maintenance, self-watering, composting, grey-water recycling, (self-)fertilising (worm towers)..

I made a raised bed by digging a ditch about half a meter deep by one meter wide and piling it downhill to make a mound. With the existing half meter of sandy soil from ground level down, this made about one meter of soil for the plants. The ditch and mound are on contour, that is, water level, (and is therefore technically called a ‘swale’) and that works out not to be perpendicular (or parallel) to the fence, as a garden bed might normally be.

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The grey/pink pipe in the ditch is the grey water from my brother’s house. I don’t need to water this bed at all. The pipe has holes in it all the way along, to disperse the water. I filled the trench with mulch about 30cm thick. So even when it’s full of water, one can walk over it.

I have made a small mound to divert rain runoff to my veggie bed. The bed goes about 90 degrees to the right of this photo.

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There is a pipe from the end of the mound, under the mulched general area to the ditch to help water move into the ditch.

The mulch (wood chip) naturally breaks down over time (within six months or so) and then at the end of summer, I lift the decomposed material in the trench and place it on the garden bed as compost. Then refill the trench with new woodchip mulch.

The water in the trench naturally goes downhill and flows under the veggie bed and wicks up into the bed. It is hugelkultur, in that, when we made the bed we buried all the bark of the firewood that my brother had bought, which naturally falls off the firewood and is left behind.

That’s it for now.

Best wishes

BrisLETS Showcase

Hi all

I attended the BrisLETS (Brisbane Local Energy Trading System) Showcase this year which was on the 2nd of September at Griffith Uni Southbank Campus. As well as trading honey, the only one doing so, I did a presentation on beekeeping and led guided meditation.

Here is the program.

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best wishes

Does your garden have a WWOOFer deficiency?

Hi all

No, I’m not talking about a loud speaker system. WWOOF stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms, or Worldwide Work Opportunities on Organic Farms (http://www.wwoof.com.au/). There are other networks for non-organic farms such as HelpX (https://www.helpx.net/).
After a member of a local gardening club praised having a WWOOFer help her in her garden, I looked into it and joined as a host (about $120). The first year (2016), I had a little interest, but no visitors. In the last few months I have had two parties. A young lady from Italy for a week and a young couple from France for two weeks, now extended to three. I found out from them that holidays start in September in Europe and many backpackers travel. They just sold their car to one, which makes them free to go to NZ.
Recently I setup and moved to a caravan, as my shed was always so dusty, due to the garage (entry) door facing south, where most of our breezes come from. There is a double bed in the caravan. I give this to WWOOFers when they stay and I move back to the shed.
I really needed help to prepare for Sustainable House Day (Sept 17th 2017) and put an ad in last year, with a few enquiries, but maybe I got it in earlier this year and it was good timing. The couple accepted that I could only afford to pay for (organic) food for one person supplemented by food from my garden. This may have been acceptable, as I only required 3 hours work a day, when the WWOOFer guidelines say 4-6.
We have done all that I wanted to do and more. Some of the things we did were:
–         Make four raised garden beds
–         Installed two ponds
–         Worked with the bees
–         Organised my seed bank, paper and plastic packets changed to ‘Berocca’ containers with a label to protect them from rats/mice
–         Planted spring seeds
–         Labelling plants for Sustainable House Day
–         Now we are setting up my aquaponics system
–         And many other small jobs.
I explained all my sustainable features (not classed as work) and they said their stay at my place has been the most interesting and educational for them. They didn’t work in this area before, but wanted to learn about living from the land sustainably ,so they can return to France and do it.
Here are some pictures:

 

Removing extra wax from frames of honey comb before decapping.

2 cleaning excess wax

Decapping the honey comb.

6 cutting

The young lady is quite a photographer and caught me capturing what I think will be the only swarm from my bee hives this year. So now I have a new hive = 10.

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Best wishes

Modified Bee Hive Bottom Board

Hi all

I thought I’d put something on the web about the modified bottom boards I use to control small hive beetle (SHB) in European honey bee hives. This makes the whole bottom board a beetle trap and I have found it so effective, I don’t use any traps inside the hive anymore. The design means I don’t need to open the hive to check or clean the trap.

This bottom board was first designed by Tibor Suto who was my bee mentor. Tibor was an engineer and made the bottom boards himself and he showed me how to. Now I buy them from the bee suppliers, as they can make them for the same price as it costs me for materials and I save my time.

Soon after I had made a few, I approached my local bee equipment supplier, who is also a timber yard, to see if they wanted to make and sell them. They now do. I advised on changes over about a year and they adopted my suggestions. They sell them for $62 or so including GST. They are Zenith Timber and Bee Supplies, 41-53 Greenbank Rd, North Maclean, Qld 4280, ph 07 5546 9777, 8am-4pm M-F.

The usual bottom board has two ‘legs’, solid pieces of wood the width of the hive, I think they’re called cleats. One is at the front and one is at the back, then there is a solid board. On top of that are three risers about one centimetre high. The end without a riser becomes the entry for the bees, once you put the brood box(es) on.

The modified bottom board uses a propolis mat, which bees can’t fit through, but beetles can, as the bottom of the hive. The bees chase the beetles, which try to hide in nooks and crannies and so they fall through the mat. Under that is a chamber for a tray to slide in from the back of the hive. In the tray you put something to catch the beetles, in which they die. You can use oil with a bit of vinegar, hydrated lime (~$12 for 20kg which would last me about a year for 10 hives) also called builders lime (not garden lime), or diatomaceous earth. I use hydrated lime, which is milder than garden lime and when I clean it out, I use the lime in the garden. Diatomaceous earth is more expensive, maybe $50 for 20kg. You put vinegar in oil to attract the SHB. You can sometime find SHB in your compost heap. They are attracted to the smell of rotten fruit. Thus the use of vinegar in the oil.

Here are pictures. First the front view. Maybe you can see the foot of the bottom board ~2cm thick, then above it is the usual board ~1cm thick, then is the chamber rixer ~3cm thick which becomes the lading pad for the bees. Onto of that is the usual riser ~1cm thick to create the entry.

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Next is the view from the back. I add a bit of plastic to stop rain getting onto the tray.

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Lifting the plastic up shows the extended end of the tray to form a kind of door. Propolis mats, are usually used under the lid. The bees seal us the gaps with propolis to regulate the flow of air: less in winter, more in summer. I try to seal this back door for the tray as much as possible, otherwise if there is a draft, the bees will seal the propolis mat up.

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Pulling out the tray.

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View from the top. Bees’ entry to the left.

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View from the top without the brood box, bees’ entry to the right.

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I’ll try to put some info about the modified lid later.

This is the short link to this page: http://wp.me/p1xSoF-hP

best wishes

my first WWOOFer

Hi all

For those who don’t know, WWOOF stands for Willing Worker On Organic Farm, or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It is an international network: http://www.wwoof.com.au/ . I have been a member for about one year, but this is the first person I’ve had visit via the network. They work up to 4 hours a day for food and accommodation.

A young Italian lady is planning to visit for four days at the end of July for the end of her 2 month stay in Australia. So I am preparing the caravan for her. I’ve moved into it from my shed, as it was very dusty, had various visitors: snakes, mice, rats, spiders, cockroaches and toads. It also had mold on the back wall from leaking rain. I heard a few times that that is quite dangerous for health.

The caravan is aligned E-W just like my shed. So that means the long side with the door, is facing north. This is where the annex goes. I brought forward my intention to pave the floor area of the annex and should have it finished before the WWOOFer comes. The pavers on the north side will absorb heat during the day and release it at night.

Before I started this, I put wire up and planted a passion-fruit vine on the opposite (south) side, then I led the sink water to a depression at the base of the vine and mulched it all. That will help keep the caravan cooler in summer, when the south wall gets sun in the afternoon.

preparing

Day one I started to gather tools and materials and thought about how best to do it. I was going to use besser blocks on the downhill side, but then decided to use the log.

day 1

This is after the first morning’s work – day 2. I got a level and positioned the log. Then I got levels on the other sides and started flattening the ground. You can see some of the pavers I’ll be using at the top right of this photo. They are from the path around my brother’s house, as he wants to lay a concrete path instead.

I had a few mornings off from this work, one to join a trip with my local garden club and one because we had strong cold westerlies. Below is how it looks now. Today I installed the post at the left, which meant mixing some concrete. The post is there for two reasons, there were only five poles, when the annex needs six and as the second support for a hammock. The first is the pole to the right that will support the roof over the caravan. This means that the western side must be left open near the caravan to string up the hammock. Generally we get breezes from the south or south east.

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This is around midday and winter is more than half over here. You can see the afternoon sun will hit all the pavers and heat them to help keep the area warmer over winter nights. I have paved to the blue piece of metal only and am not sure if I’ll get it all done before the WWOOFer arrives.

I reduced the area to pave, as I worked out I didn’t have enough pavers. I think I’ll be about 15 short and may use something else to fill in the gap at the back right. Each length takes 23 pavers. So the first 8 or so will take the back row past the doorway.

You may see the frame for a roof over the caravan. That is planned, but certainly not needed in winter. We intend to catch water from the roof. If we didn’t do that, I would suggest a roof that could be removed easily during winter.

to be continued

best wishes

fruit tree raised beds

Hi all

Now that it’s a bit cooler, I feel a bit better, a bit more energetic to do heavier work.

So I’ve started changing the mounds, now overgrown with grass, to raised beds. I’ve done three now.

This is how they looked before:

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(This picture is of the next mound to do, with a Pecan nut tree that is struggling.)

Then I cleared the grass and put the edging and filled up the new raised bed with soil:

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(This picture is of the third bed I did with a Jackfruit. On top of the mulch I put large rocks, which will absorb heat in the day and release it at night. This is important for our winter where the temperature can get below 5 degrees centigrade, which the Jackfruit does not like.)

Then added lime, rock dust, ash and egg shells and watered it, keeping a basin around the base of the tree to hold water, so it can seep to the roots:

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Then put wet cardboard then mulched:

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(This picture is of the second bed I did with a Pomelo, the largest citrus known. Afterwards I applied organic treatments to control the scale and their friends the ants.)

Lastly I had to level the dirt that was left around the new raised bed.

Phew! It took a bit out of me and have to rest a few days before continuing, due to my post-viral fatigue.

Best wishes

Masonry Heater Update

Hi all

Now I am publishing updates that are mainly educational, I think most, to my academia page. If there are any that are not particularly educational, then I’d post them here.

Here is the most recent news update on my masonry heater, probably the most efficient wood (renewably) fuelled heater known to man:

https://www.academia.edu/31767825/20170308_masonry_heater.pdf

 

best wishes

 

propagation

Hi all

I have a backlog of photos to upload, for various posts, but I decided to upload these straight away rather than add them to the backlog and make it bigger.

I got three of these trees free from Logan City Council to plant on the property:

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I got 10 Brazilian Tree Fern (Shizolobium Pahayba) seeds from a friend and got five to shoot which I’ve planted around my shed for future shade.

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Following are the seedlings I’ve grown: (lemon grass, Ethiopian cabbage, which is an ‘open’ cabbage, some local tea trees, Bunya Pines, more local tea trees, pigeon peas and assorted others).

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That’s it for now.

best wishes

Other news from the garden

Hi again

I continue to make sauerkraut, which is a probiotic food. Once my aquaponics system is set up, I may be using home grown cabbages. This is my latest batch just after preparation and after a couple of days, having topped it up with brine and you can see fermentation has started via the bubbles on the top.

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I give free honey and native bee workshops each month. This is one of my native bee hives that I am ‘budding’. That is a method of reproducing the hive. You put a pipe from the entrance of the established hive into the back of a new box and move the established hive back, putting the new box in the established hive’s original place. Thus the bees have to go through the new empty box to get to the established hive and they usually decide to build a new hive in the new box. This method takes longer, but is less traumatic to the bees.

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This is the north side (warm winter side) trellis with the Madagascar bean (7 year bean) giving shade to the Flow Hive and some of the harvested beans. I’ve planted this bean on the south side trellis and plan to replace this north side one with grapes.

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Here’s me and the Flow Hive.

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that’s it for now

best wishes

 

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