Episode 142. Developments and Planning on Our Smallholding Journey

This is the World Organic News for the week ending the 12th of November 2018.

Jon Moore reporting!

Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!

This week I’m on the move again. Couch surfing, in beds obviously, between sisters-in-law. 

The planning for the new block is proceeding apace.

Mrs World Organic News and I will be focusing on garlic production for the forst few years. We’re doing this because garlic in Australia is mostly supplied from China. This is a little problematic for a few resons. There are rumours this Chinese garlic is doused in bleach to clean it up for local consumption. This may or may not be the case. The bigger issue is the supply line length. China is not just down the road nor is it even supplying garlic in a manner where the end consumer can know the farmer who grew their garlic.

Now being a smallholder we need to build relationships with our consumers. This and the long growing reason of garlic will allow us to write quite extensively on the process of planting, growing, harvesting and preparing for sale. Lots of pics to come and a dedicated website, YouTube Channel and, maybe, even another podcast. I’ll still working on a title and so on but keep your eyes out for announcements on this.

We look like we’ll be on the property in early December. This gives us three months to prepare 1000 square metres, or a quarter of an acre in the old money for the garlic. We be building not dig gardens, obviously, so I’ll document that process in pics and vids to give people space for suggestions, criticism and hopefully, applause. lol.

In conjunction with this we’ll be setting up manure collection systems. There is a slight slope from west to east on the land. This means livestock housing etc will be placed on the western boundary and gravity will slowly move the animal wastes through vermiculture beds and eventually to the garlic and other garden beds. Having had to wheelbarrow goat bedding uphill in the past, I’m keen to use gravity this time for energy efficiency and spine care reasons. 

To that end, I’m drawn towards poddy calves as a manure source. Hand rearing calves is a wonderful thing to do anyway and provides, over time growing amounts of manure as the animals grow. My first mentor, in print, was John Seymour. He was an advocate of Jersey beef. Now this breed does not dress out anything like a beef breed but the meat is still beef. The other advantage of Jersey beef is the almost giveaway price of Jersey bull week old calves. Once marked they are quiet and easy to handle. So we’re thinking, two or three Jersey bull calves and two Jersey heifer calves. The latter are a bit more expensive so swings and round abouts. Above all these calves are for manure production in the first place then meat and eventually milk. The milk though is a very long term prospect. 

Given the land size restriction two dairy cows will be a stretch. We will have to “grow”our own pastures or buy them in. Let me explain. Buying in means silage and hay. This leaves us exposed to price variations in the hay market. Growing our own pastures is not so much on the land but by sprouting grains. This process I first observed on a segment of Landline or some such program where the farmer was growing barley sprouts in a seven day cycle in a greenhouse with water recycling and so on, on drought affected land in South Australia. The cows looked as fat as butter. There are many people doing this nowadays and quick YouTube search will reveal many. Barley is the grain of choice for this process. We will be conducting Fukuoka trials on a small space to begin with. On the other hand, with a little storage, we can buy barley at the bottom of the price cycle and be well set for up to five to seven years of feed, milk and, most importantly, manure production. 

The fruit trees, apples and a pear tree will need fruit thinning, netting and so on. The only and very sad looking lemon tree will need a heavy pruning, some epsom salts and I’m prepared to make the not quite ultimate sacrifice and irrigate with the liquid form of humanure. The nitrogen boost alone will do this wee tree much good. Eventually we will be adding quinces and crabapples. A bit different but quince paste and crabapple jelly are one of lifes truly great joys in life.

There is already some poultry housing in place so we will be keeping our eyes out for some chooks and maybe some Kahki Campbell ducks. Tasmania has the great advantage of being fox free. This is great for poultry. The native Tasmanian Devil has suffered severe population loss of the past couple of decades with a contagious facial tumour disease. Whilst unpleasant for the Devils and the ecology of the island, the upside is a reduction in poultry predators. On an up note there appear to be small populations of Devils exhibiting immunilogoical resistance to the disease and they may be on their way back. As an insurance policy a “clean” population has been relocated to the mainland and is surviving well.

Of course, a kitchen garden, herb spiral and so on are on the books. More on those as we build them.

So those are our plans, at present. All subject to change as new information and data come to us. The framework seems doable as I look at it. Now we just have to await the machinations of the legal land acquisition process. Before Christmas is a definite, early December looks promising.

And on that happy note I’ll draw this episode to a conclusion. 

Remember: Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!

Now, as a podcast listener you may be thinking of producing your own podcast but you’re not sure where to begin, drop over to mrjonmoore.com and pick up the free checklists I’ve written to help you get started. You can also checkout the YouTube Channel PodThoughts for more helpful info. Link in the show notes. Details at the website mrjonmoore.com.

Thank you for listening and I’ll be back next week.

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