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  • Writer's pictureHuttons Valley Permaculture

The good and the bad

What makes one plant, with a beautiful flower, a noxious weed to be cut down and disposed of , but another, with an equally beautiful flower, something to be nurtured and spread around. Well in permaculture they are both welcome, however, local laws may label one as evil to get rid of at all costs because it is a very successful plant but which may pose a problem in our unbalanced environment. It is very good at getting birds to spread it around and it is very good at growing in all sorts of conditions and can take over in some farm areas. Often these plants are toxic to grazing animals. I'm talking about the yellow flowered plant which is a type of St Johns Wort. The plant itself is lovely with yellow flowers, and red and black berries.I was a little disappointed to find that I had to dispose of it.

The other plant however I am actually harvesting the seeds from and spreading them around my swale tree plantings. This too has a pretty flower but it is a more valued plant because it fixes nitrogen. By growing these types of plants around trees and shrubs of higher value means you can chop them back which releases the nitrogen to the soil which will then fertilise your plants.

Finally got to some log splitting this week. With Trents help we managed to split and stack a heap of wood in the wood shed. There is still more to be cut up and hauled in from the pasture for splitting but it's nice to have made a start on it all. Trent was on the stacking duty and did an impressive job - I learnt a thing or two about stacking. My piles never look this good!!

Once again this year I've managed to get a load of pears to fill my fruit press. I got them chopped up in a little garden waste shredder which does a fantastic job, before loading up the press and putting it to work. Lots of sweet juice was released to which I've now added yeast and left it for a few weeks to ferment. I can't use potassium metabisulphite to sterilise the juice prior to adding a commercial yeast as I can't tolerate it, so I have to cross my fingers a little that the final product won't be adversely affected by wild yeasts and bacteria. Last years brew turned out great so fingers crossed for the same result this year!

Another project that I'm trying to ramp up is my wool spinning. I've started to wash and dry the wool which takes out the lanolin and a bit of the dirt. So much whiter!! I'll then have to make a start on doing the same with the alpaca fibre. I also made myself a niddy noddy! A what I hear you ask. Haha - I'm finding that there is a whole new language used in the spinning, fibre arts world that I have to learn. A niddy noddy is a device that you wind your yarn on to from the spinning bobbin. You can see it here in the photos - I used electrical conduit to make mine. And here is my first skein of homespun yarn. This yarn hasn't been washed yet. My future yarns from wool will be appearing a lot whiter without all the lanolin in it. I've decided a neck warmer will be my first knitting project with home spun wool. This seems a lot more achievable than a jumper and I suspect I'll learn a lot through out this project that will make future jumpers actually wearable!!

My seedlings are coming along nicely, however they are being attacked a little by caterpillars. I'm going to have to deal with these critters a lot better than I have in the past as I don't won't my crops decimated all the time. I think I'll treat the seedlings with a bacteria spray that affects the caterpillars but leaves other insects untouched. I will also try to create a netted growing space for my brassicas so they can survive until the cool of winter when all the moths and butterflies disappear and stop laying their eggs.

Bit by bit I'll get on top of different things!!

Well thats about it for the week. I have been fermenting and preserving quite a few foods which I'll continue on this week. One of these foods is some apples that I had to harvest from my tree. I've made a video on it which will come out on Sunday so look out for that one.

Have a great week everyone

Cheers Linda

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