The Sugar Snap Peas Story

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As a follow up to my post about planting sugar snap peas with Miss Z, have a look at their wonderful growth!

April

Sugar snap peas with the pots for flowers in the background

Sugar snap peas with the pots for flowers in the background

Sugar snap peas with chillis growing in the background

Sugar snap peas with chillis growing in the background

May

Sugar snap peas climbing to the top

Sugar snap peas climbing to the top

June

The sugar snap peas have taken over the trellis

The sugar snap peas have taken over the trellis

Lots of flowers mean lots of sugar snap peas to come

Lots of flowers mean lots of sugar snap peas to come

In July and August, I was periodically adjusting the trellis as the weight of the sugar snap peas was tipping it over in the wind (permaculture principle #1 observe and interact).

In August, I managed a harvest that went straight into a stir fry dinner 🙂

Yesterday, Miss Z and I were picking more and this is how it looked.

September

The sugar snap peas after being munched on by lots of hungry snails

The sugar snap peas after being munched on by lots of hungry snails

But we still had lots to pick, thankfully!

Miss Z and I picked ample sugar snap peas

Miss Z and I picked ample sugar snap peas

There are a handful of peas still growing on the plants and we’ll see if we might manage to yield a bit more for the season.

Following permaculture principle #3 obtain a yield, I would definitely recommend growing sugar snap peas if they suit your climate.  They have grown very easily without much intervention, although I’d suggest not placing them next to a wall where the snails can climb up and feast 😉  They have lovely greenery and white flowers, and the peas and the pods are edible and taste crisp and fresh.  Nutritionally, they offer fibre, iron, potassium, folate, and vitamin C.

I’ll have sugar snap peas on our menu at home this week!

Design Project: February and March Implementation

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I’m going to combine the update for February and March since February was a short month. For those months, the implementation plan scheduled:

  1. Patio cover installation
  2. Buy mat for kid’s play area under patio
  3. Choose pavers for under the clothesline
  4. Install pavers for the clothesline area
  5. Buy and install new clothesline
  6. Water tank quotes

So what happened?

These activities were based on having the patio cover installed and otherwise prioritised, so they have all slipped from their schedule.  Instead, this is what I did.

The soil around the avocado tree received some attention with sheet mulching, all the while hoping that it wasn’t too late for the tree and it would show signs of life again.

Avocado tree with rubbish

Avocado tree with rubbish

Avocado tree with cleared area

Avocado tree with cleared area

Avocado tree and ground condition

Avocado tree and ground condition

Home made compost

Home made compost

Alive compost

Alive compost

Avocado tree with some compost

Avocado tree with some compost

Avocado tree with cardboard

Avocado tree with cardboard

Sheet mulching helpers

Sheet mulching helpers

Avocado tree with soil building layers

Avocado tree with soil building layers

The herbs grew in the kitchen window

Marigold seedling

Marigold seedling

Thyme is growing

Thyme is growing

Slow growing chives

Slow growing chives

The pumpkin plants flourished

The pumpkin reaches up

The pumpkin reaches up

Pumpkin leaves angled to the sun

Pumpkin leaves angled to the sun

The pumpkin spreads

The pumpkin spreads

Green fuzzy pumpkin leaves

Green fuzzy pumpkin leaves

I drew an avocado tree guild to begin our first food forest.  I have noted the layers of the avocado guild (tree, shrub, herbacious, ground covers, rhizosphere) on the right, and available resources, and needs on the bottom right.

Avocado tree guild drawing

Avocado tree guild drawing

I set up some pots for Miss Z to grow sugar snap peas and flowers for a butterfly garden to educate her on growing plants, give her some responsibility, and allow her to forage her own food when the time comes.  This follows permaculture principle #1 observe and interact.

Pots with seed raising soil and compost

Pots with seed raising soil and compost

Sugar snap peas for the big pot

Sugar snap peas for the big pot

Butterfly garden mix for 2 pots

Butterfly garden mix for 2 pots

Pea straw mulch on top

Pea straw mulch on top

I set up a new area for growing sweet peas along the pergola, which will add beauty, attract insects, reduce weeds, and improve the soil for when we’re ready to start growing a passionfruit vine.

New trellis and soil for sweet pea seeds

New trellis and soil for sweet pea seeds

Sweet pea trellis section

Sweet pea trellis section

I had a quote to replace our 2 full flush toilets with water-saving dual flush toilets.  This was bumped up the priority list as we were toilet training our little one, and it was complicating matters to turn on the water at the wall to be able to flush the toilet (long story).  This helped us to use permaculture principle #6 produce no waste (or less waste, in this case).

I had 3 quotes for a patio cover – at last!  My husband used the http://www.homeimprovementpages.com.au/ to outline our job, and then we shortlisted our top 3 for quotes.  I wasn’t impressed with one company, was imagining the sky with another company, and grounded with a vision with the last company.

What I learnt from that

I love growing seeds! It’s fascinating to watch for changes every day and see how they evolve. Having seeds on the kitchen window sill is great as not only do they grow well there, but it’s very easy to check on them and give them water if they need it. The pumpkins have been an unexpected joy. I’ve never grown pumpkins before and I was amazed at how quickly they grew and I loved to admire their fuzzy leaves and beautiful yellow flowers. I noticed that they attracted bees and ladybirds, which was a bonus.

Having a drawn plan of a guild makes the implementation much more straightforward and quicker. The implementation highlighted to me that we don’t produce enough compost to meet our needs, and bags of compost from Bunnings are almost siphoned into our clay soil. It strikes me that it would be more efficient to have a truck deliver a few cubic metres of compost and then shovel it into a wheelbarrow and tip it where we need it, but that would probably require a working bee.  The other point is that our home made compost springs up gifts from the seeds that are in it, and I’d be inclined to only use that in our food growing areas because of that.

I took advice from Sarhn from Greener Me to teach Miss Z to grow her own plants and have found sugar snap peas are very easy to grow.  Miss Z enjoyed sprinkling seeds in the pots.

What about the plan?

The hardscaping has been delayed but is still on the agenda.  Lots more to come!

I’ll give course news in my next post – are you excited?

Design Project: Applying Permaculture Principles and a Design

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Now I am up to sharing the documentation for A for Applying Permaculture Principles from the CEAP process for my design project. This consists of the design map, and a spreadsheet of the principles and patterns applied in the design.

Design and comments

Ta da!

Ta da!

Feedback on the design - success!

Feedback on the design – success!

Features of this design

This design is more child-focused, with a designated mulched section with stepping stone pavers with children’s garden and sandpit in the shade of the grevillea tree. I have noted a kid’s play area (intended as a rubber mat for safer playing than on the concrete) in the patio area which will allow for under cover play once the patio cover is built.

Having a mulched area will have many benefits, such as:

  • reduce the area for lawn mowing,
  • improve the look,
  • reduce the impact of sand wandering from the sandpit and help little feet brush off sand before coming in the house
  • help prevent the elm tree root suckers from popping up
  • improve the soil

The food production area next to it shows a location for the dwarf peach tree to be planted, and a blueberry shrub to accompany our existing shrub, and also to be planted in the ground behind the low bluestone wall. Planting them will help them to retain moisture and keep their roots cool.

The grevillea shrub along the fence can be moved to the children’s garden, and this creates space for a trellis and a couple of raspberry canes.

I have suggested a dwarf mulberry tree as they are established quickly and don’t need another tree for pollination. If not, then another fruit tree but check size and whether two trees are needed for pollination. The intention is for the trees to have guilds of perennial plants to support their needs for nitrogen, insects, and mulch, and many of those can easily be edible or medicinal. A water tank will fit next to the shed and provide drip irrigation for the trees.

I have put in an extra raised garden bed for more annuals behind the low bluestone wall (design principle #3: obtain a yield) while the trees are getting established.

On the other side of the house, the pergola can support a passionfruit vine and eventually a grapevine once the passionfruit dies back. An herb planter can sit on top of the easement outlet next to this, and after the daphne is removed, a potted lemon tree and potted rosemary will fit there in easy access to the kitchen and the tap.

Next to this is a ground mounted fold out washing line, ideally with a shade cover. This will take advantage of wind there to dry clothes (rather than using a small indoor clothes horse and dryer) and provide a wind break for the plants without causing issues with the easement piping.

A new garden bed in front of BBQ on the patio will provide a handy sunny spot for natives, including the woolly bush to be moved there as it hasn’t thrived in its current location. This will help to improve the rocky clay soil and have some wind protection from being in front of the BBQ.

This design doesn’t show an outdoor hutch for day time grass grazing and spreading manure by our little inhabitants, but that would be beneficial.

How does permaculture apply to this design?

This table outlines the 12 principles and my comments about how they relate to my design.

Applying Principles to the Design

Future possibilities

Consider an extra compost bin or two to accommodate extra plant material and allow one in use while the other is full.

To be reviewed after the patio cover is in place and we can observe how it casts shade and guides wind.

In conclusion

So, the design is the theory, and next I will share with you the budget, implementation plan, and maintenance notes to show how this can all happen!

The Design Project series

Making a Start

Creating an Example

Design Project Site Observations and Maps

Design Project Developing my Process and a Promise to VEG

Design Project Client Interview

Design Project Tools for Analysis

Design Project Key Functions and a Design (nearly!)

Design Project: Developing my Process and a Promise to VEG

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In my post, Creating An Example, I outlined what I want to achieve from the design project, and shared the 12 permaculture principles that provide guidance for this.

In this post, I would like to share my journey of developing the process for the project.

The branches reach out like signs in all directions

The branches reach out like signs in all directions

The way I see it, there are two parts to this:

  1. What is the overall process?
  2. In what format shall I capture the information, analysis, and reporting?

What processes are out there?

I have found a lot of the reading about the process to be quite high level and intangible. Bill Mollison’s Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual, which is the required reading for the course, offers a number of approaches for design methods such as:

  • design by listing characteristics of components,
  • design by expanding on direct observations of a site,
  • design by adopting lessons learnt from nature, and
  • design as a selection of options or pathways based on decisions, amongst others.

However, this doesn’t give an overall process.

So I turned to Permaculture Design by Aranya for more step-by-step assistance while this is new to me. When reading it, my first impression was that this was more what I was looking for, and it does place design in context of a project, which is helpful.

Aranya discusses a few different frameworks and their associated acronyms.

Some design frameworks

SADIMET represents Survey, Analysis, Design, Implementation, Maintenance, Evaluation, and Tweaking

OBREDIMET represents Observation, Boundaries, Resources, Evaluation, Design, Implementation, Maintenance, Evaluation, and Tweaking

Quite a mouthful, eh?

And this is where Ziga from Permablogger has put together a useful post on this.

Personally, I’m happy with a recipe-style guide, with number steps. I think the above can easily bundle similar activities together.

Choosing my process

Aranya also includes a shorter acronym in his book: CEAP.

C – Collect site information

E – Evaluate the information

A – Apply permaculture principles

P – Plan a schedule of implementation, maintenance, evaluation, and tweaking

That brings it down to 4 steps, which is far easier to remember, and not lose track of where you are in the process. Essentially, I want any process I use to be meaningful. It doesn’t really matter what you call the step; it’s what you do that’s important. I will need to reflect on whether these steps align with my process after this project is finished.

Which brings me to part 2, in what format shall I capture my work?

Capturing my work

In my working life, I was a System Manager a few short years ago, and our mantra with supporting projects was always to use the system that is fit for purpose. There are lots of systems out there, but you want to use the one that is:

  • accessible when and where you need it,
  • has training and support available to get you through the learning curve and to resolve any snags,
  • has acceptable costs,
  • scalable to your project size,
  • and importantly, fits into your processes so you can produce what you need.

My intention is to be able to take my permaculture lessons into a professional capacity in Melbourne, and since the requirements for the course assessment are so generic, it leaves presentation open to personal preference.

I had to wonder if there are industry standards for this documentation or is permaculture still finding its feet in that respect?

I found this article by Darren J. Doherty “A Case Study in Permaculture Design Business Development” published in 2007, who comments “The application of digital planning and mapping software and tools in Permaculture Design has to date not been prominent.”

This stands to reason that quick and easy documentation is the name of the game.

My formats and the promise

I’ve put together a Design Project Deliverables List in Excel to keep track of my documentation.  Letting clients know what to expect is a standard part of project delivery and enables a discussion about the level of detail they desire vs the agreed cost.

Design Project Deliverables List

You will see that I’ve organised it in terms of the design stages and noted the status.

I’m using the Microsoft Office suite, WordPress to publish and submit my work, plus a mind map from Mind Meister, all easy and free (aside from the initial cost of Microsoft Office).

The hard part for me has been the mapping, since the property is irregularly shaped.  I have used SketchUp for the base map. I had some timely local guidance for this from the director at Very Edible Gardens, Dan Palmer, who generously responded to my query about what they use and in gratitude I promised to mention it on my blog 😀  There you go, Dan!

You might be interested in seeing the responses from a question I raised in the Permaculture group on LinkedIn what they like to use for mapping, if you are a member of that group.

I liked the idea of using SketchUp as it can be used for both 2D and 3D rendering, and it can conveniently grab sections of Google Earth from within the program to sketch over.  It also has handy videos on YouTube to show different features of the program and that made the learning curve more approachable for me.  And I was able to use a free trial.  So that all makes it fit for purpose.  Hooray for making life easier!

So there you are, my process is CEAP, and I’m using computer-based tools for the documentation.  I have more C for Collect Site Information to share with you soon, including the all important client interview, base map, and PASTE analysis.

What about you?  Have you found any other useful processes in your permie work?