Using permaculture ethics & design principles to transform an old energy guzzling bungalow into a showcase of sustainable design. It's about energy cycling, building community, self-reliance,creatively using & reusing materials... all without spending heaps of money.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Food Harvest - First Quarter of 2013

Principle 3: Obtain a yield and Principle 4: Apply self regulation and accept feedback

Life has been very busy lately. I've been flat out on redeveloping the Permaculture Principles website which is now online. As part of the rebuilding of the website I have been working with Charlie Mgee in integrating his interpretations of the permaculture principles into song with the website. He launched his album last night with his constantly evolving band at CERES (most appropriate) along with this video clip featuring the 'Obtain a yield' principle - which I love. I took the family down for the event and finally met Charlie in the flesh - the latest effervescent permaculture ambassador. A fantastic night that gave me hope for a resurgence of interest in permaculture.




While working on the new website I've been trying to keep the water up to the garden during this unrelenting dry season. In the last four months of the year I recorded just 72mm of rain, and in the first quarter of 2013 we had no rain in January, 50mm in Feb and 39mm in March - 89mm in total. Comparing to the previous season where we had 194mm in the last four months of 2011 and 313mm in the first quarter of 2012.

This has resulted in a rethink about how I manage our rainwater supply (31,000lt). My plan for previous seasons has been to use most of our rainwater supply for irrigating our gardens with the assumption (based on previous years) that we would get heavy summer rains at some point during the dry season. But this year we were left with a low rainwater supply for household use, as the rains didn't come. We ended up running a hose into the house to keep our washing machine going, saving the precious rainwater for more important uses. We used about 40,000lt from the mains during the first quarter to irrigate the garden and run our washing machine. The rainfalls in late Feb and late March ensured that we didn't run out of rainwater for the household.

I know that many people think that using mains water for watering the garden is wasteful, but as a comparison I thought that I'd point out that daily average water use in Melbourne during January reached up to 238lt per person per day. To compare, we used a total of 40,000lt, or about 111lt per person per day from the mains - primarily for irrigation.

Next season I plan to keep the rainwater tanks full leading into summer for household use, and if water restrictions come in during the dry then I may be able to afford to use some rainwater to keep the gardens alive. When the dry breaks (around April) then I can afford to use rainwater for irrigation once again until September.

Part of out 2012 summer vegie harvest
You may be aware of the previous annual missions that we have undertaken - the Binimum challange of 2011 and our Food purchase analysis of 2012. This year we've decided to record our food production for the year. The table below shows our first quarter results - an interesting exercise...

NOTE: I've recorded totals at the bottom of the tables as an indicator, but they are not that important - the value of food varies a lot. Some food weights are not accurate like strawberries that get eaten before making it to the scales. Leafy greens, and chive's sometime don't get included as they are picked and used straight away.

All weights are measured in grams (except for the eggs)
As vegies and fruit often come in an abundance we have been preserving and sharing excess amongst neighbours and friends - especially the zucchini. We also have recently bought some more chickens to try to increase our egg production, to chicks and two pullets, and are going to start sprouting grains before feeding them.

1 comment:

Linda said...

I tried sooo hard to get a babysitter for that event! It would have been great!