Homegrown Heirloom Seeds from Our Permaculture Homestead
Loganberry Forest Homestead

Permaculture Homestead Update: Summer 19/20

It’s been so long since I last provided an update on our progress in developing our permaculture property and the various projects we’ve done to date. A lot has changed on the family front in this time. We now are now a family of 4 with our youngest being now almost 2! This has certainly slowed down projects to an extent, however it has also been the impetus to do some things i’ve wanted to do for many years now. Biggest of these has been the launch of my business – also called Loganberry Forest.

During maternity leave from my part time research officer job, I seized the opportunity of having more available time and started the business which is focused on growing and selling heirloom seeds. From the outset I decided to focus on what we grew, using our beyond organic (although not certified organic since thats far too expensive at our scale) permaculture style growing methods.

We do not resell seeds. I wrote a whole post actually about why I chose to go down this route even though it has created some challenges we wouldn’t have if we did on-sell as many companies do. Primarily these challenges are getting the largest variety of seed available when many plants will cross pollinate (such as brassicas and onions) and therefore can’t be all grown at the same time, as well as just getting enough stock.

First farmers market stall at Creswick Market.

Over spring I did a couple of farmer market stalls for my seeds and this was extremely successful and largely wiped me out of stock. Not a bad problem to have really and i’ve loved meeting so many other passionate gardeners in the process. So now that i’ve largely ironed out the tasks of making the website and the graphic design of all the seed packets (something i’ve done entirely myself) i’m now focusing on boosting both the variety and amount of stock of seed that i’m saving. All by hand.

In terms of our homestead development we have still not extended our reach any further than the 2 or so acres around our home. Retrofitting our home to be more sustainable has been a big focus of recent times. And it couldn’t have come at a better time with the launch of David Holmgren’s latest permaculture tome Retrosuburbia to inspire us. This has included the installation of solar panels, heat pump hot-water and a rainwater tank.

New solar panels. Something to note if you are getting them on your home – they usually put them on grid-connected properties at a lower ‘more attractive’ angle which then generates less electricity. We didn’t go with that – not only am I more about function, i’m quite happy for them to make a statement.

Dan has built a large deck out the back and is part way through constructing the outdoor kitchen there which will include a rocket style pizza oven and a vintage wood stove. One of the great benefits of having an outdoor kitchen is that it allows us to cook without heating up the home in summer and also extends our fuel options to include wood. Rocket ovens are particularly efficient only needing small sticks to get very hot – something ive been saving and drying out my fruit tree prunings for.

The rocket pizza oven under construction

On the north face of the deck we are growing a grape vine which will provide shade in summer and let sun in the winter when the leaves fall. Once it gets big enough that is. Its growing in a brick planter which runs along the north face of the deck and is made of bricks we got for free from several of the many new housing developments popping up in Ballarat. Its a good source of materials as the builders usually leave behind what they don’t use and the new home owners tend to want to get rid of them. If your in the area check out facebook marketplace.

We were very happy to find bricks for this as they have good heat retaining properties in winter. In addition to easy access herbs, the grapevine and a bunch of veg we have planted 3 citrus trees. Citrus has never been successful for us in the outside in the normal soil. I think its a combination of the frequent frosts we get as well as heavy soil. This solution is inspired by a mature orange tree at David Holmgren’s permaculture display property growing in a brick planter after he had also experienced similar issues. Beside the structural beams and fence of the deck it should also be easy to protect our young citrus over winter with frost cloth.

The brick planter garden. The chicken wire is to protect it from our free ranging ducks.

The other major addition to our property has been two bee hives. I have so much to say about this i’ll probably do a separate post but this has been something i’ve wanted to get into for ages and was very excited to get the opportunity to do a year long beekeeping mentorship over the last year. We have chosen to use the warre beehive system which is a bit different to the norm so hence i’ll write a whole post about my reasoning behind that, its benefits and what i might do differently if i were to get a third beehive in the future.

Our beehives. If you know anything about beekeeping you’ll note one isn’t quite a full warre. So more on that in a separate post.

So looking back on all of this. Yes I guess we have been pretty busy these last couple of years since the last update. We still love living here and working on our projects as much as when we first arrived. And we have lots of exciting future plans to share with you into the future.