Ancient technique to save your Summer garden

Summer can be a deal-breaker when it comes to growing moisture loving seedlings and plants. Unless you have a reticulated drip-irrigation system –which I don’t have, you need to water the veggies quite often to expect a decent harvest. Often that means those fragile seedlings get damping off problems or mildew when you sprinkle water over them.

For centuries dry-climate gardeners have made unglazed clay pots for irrigation. They’re called Ollas.  Modern manufacturers still make them but the price of each can be quite prohibitive if your garden on a shoe-string or have a large patch.

These clay pots provide a slow release of water underground. As the roots grow, they wrap around the pot allowing the plant to take almost all the water. If the surrounding ground is well mulched, then evaporation is greatly limited.

ollas from op shopsI collect from op shops unglazed clay wine coolers that I bury up to their rim into my garden beds and add water for slow release. I then plant the seedlings around them and voilà!

Now, bees and other insects can drown in that water body so you’re best capping the top of these clay pots with a saucer, or put a stick in them so they have a chance to climb out.

Each cost me up to $5 each, and can be reused almost indefinitely.

PS: find me at Dooralong Produce Swap when Music in the Park is on the 2nd Sunday of each month and bring your produce (or clay pots!) to swap!


It is not too late to register to Garden to Table’s Residential Permaculture Course held with John Champagne, Megan Cooke and myself in Pacific Palms, NSW – 19 November to 1 December 2016

Mid-winter harvest (and how a permaculture garden survives six weeks of neglect)

We’re back from a long trip and I come home to a garden that is pumping food (and some weeds too!). During that time we’ve been away, I believe the garden survived on its own, fed by the diverse organic matter and soil biota which I have lovingly helped establish and by the occasional rain. Continue reading

We think, therefore we eat

A major ingredient in simple living is mindfulness… this means to pay attention, to engage our mind, to be aware, switched-on, to think and deduce. It also means to make informed choices, and sometimes to accept some compromises.

When it comes to eating, we’ve now come to doing it robotically, without thinking. We blindly believe that the manufacturer cares for our health and well-being and we stop being aware. Nineteen century French gastronome Brillat-Savarin once wrote “tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are.” How relevant is this now that we buy our food in a pre-packaged form, ready-to-eat, imported, adulterated and fake! Continue reading

Hibernation – a necessary ‘people care’ period and a system-design appraisal

What happens to our pastured chickens when we’re stuck in bed with the flu, there’s a phenomenal rain storm outside and their shelter is flooding..?

We enter into our fourth Winter here at Valley’s End and our family will soon slide into Hibernation Mode, time during which we go quiet, we introspect, we reflect, we give feedback, we brainstorm, we dream, we design, we refine, and we plan further. Continue reading

Settling into Autumn

Here is a collection of pictures taken today…


See you at one of our courses to learn more about permaculture design, forest gardening or simply to hang out in our beautiful little valley!

Enrolling now

Teaching in a relaxed atmosphere

Learning Permaculture in a relaxed atmosphere

We’re now accepting registrations for our annual part-time Permaculture Design Course (PDC).

This course is part-time, meaning it takes place every Saturday (except during school holidays) from 9am to 5pm, starting Saturday 6 August 2016, ending Saturday 12 November 2016. Continue reading

Recruiting new intern

Bushfire season will be closing soon and with this we can resume our intake of interns/wwoofers.

Last year, Kelvin stayed with us for eight months, weaving his presence into our daily family patterns, becoming one of us, learning, teaching, providing us relief and support, sharing stories, humour, silences, recipes and wisdom…

We did so much that year…

We planted trees -many trees, to  a point when it felt we were the characters in The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono

Continue reading

Hydrophobic soil

There’s a spot in the garden that doesn’t hold moisture, no matter how much I water it in. In fact water seems to literally run off its surface or pool on top. This would normally not worry me sleepless if that wasn’t for loosing crops to desiccation, starvation or disease, or for wasting energy to keep that area moist.

Continue reading

Free plant tonic that you can grow

Comfrey is the plant every garden should have.

Comfrey on garden edges

Comfrey on garden edges

I dug out a clump a few weeks ago, and the root snapped. Still, I had in my hands a 56cm long taproot!

Now all of you gardeners should go “whoa!” for you know that the deeper travel the roots, the more drought-resistant the plant is. Continue reading

Are you new to simple living?

This column is about our story and how to live a simple life.

The word simple should not be heard as basic, restrictive or boring. Simple living doesn’t mean you have to give up your smart phone, dress in rags and become macrobiotic.It doesn’t mean either ‘doing everything yourself’ from soap to bread. None of that. Continue reading