23 August 2006

Killing Kikuyu

In response to someone's query on strategies for eliminating grass on the permaculture-oceania mailing list, I bemoaned the difficulty of getting rid of Kikuyu, to which April Sampson-Kelly <email-elided> wrote:
what does kikuyu need?
My strategies for replacing kikuyu are based on these observations,
I stop cutting it, i stop light access by covering it with cardboard sheets and mulch (which also serves to cut ventilation and risk of fire, and reduce risk of soil erosion by water or wind)
A Thousand Thanks to April and Jedd for prodding my few remaining neurons back to life...

A walk around the garden with my eyes open was all I really required. Places where we've planted Keurbooms (an indigenous Acacia forest pioneer - no data on N-fixing, though I suspect they do) show that the trees have been successful in out-competing the Kikuyu to the limit of their drip-line.

However! I am in a big hurry. I don't have/want to spend 10 years at this - I need to clear the area to get my self-sufficiency level up and back on track.

I also notice that Cape Gooseberry (Phaseolus something) has been extremely effective at shading-out the Kikuyu in an area where they were allowed to go rampant - they freely self-seed, helped along by the otherwise-bloody-nuisance Mousebirds. So: as soon as the rains stops, and with Spring on our doorsteps soon, I shall be planting a couple of seed-trays of Cape Gooseberry. Along with all the volunteers that usually get weeded out of the veggie garden I'll pop them into the (very long, rank, unmowed and ungrazed for over 10 years) Kikuyu. Once they've killed off the grass they are relatively easy to clear.

Should be rid of the grass in about 18 months to 2 years... Yay!

19 August 2006

Irish Perpetual Motion Machine

An Irish company, Steorn, claims to have invented an energy-generation technology that operates at greater than 100% efficiency.  In other words, a Perpetual Motion machine.  They are seeking validation from respected physicists.

Now, I don't mind fools being parted from their money.  But its a bit sad that some permaculture proponents buy into this sort of bullshit.  As a long-time practitioner of permaculture design principles, I firmly believe that the basis of permaculture design is a firm and clear understanding of the fundamentals of thermodynamics.

Even if one does not have a clear grasp of energy principles, pure logic tells us that all the "free energy" machines and theories have to be a load of bollocks:  If I could build a machine that generates "free energy" (or, at least, more energy than it consumes) I would not need to "convince" anyone that it works; I would not need to "seek validation" from physicists or anybody else.  All I would need to do is build just one, and start generating energy.  Then, with the money I earn from teh first one, I would build another one.  Then another one, and another, and another.  Investors would flock to fund me because I would be showing a positive return.  In short order I would take over the world.  (Not that I want to - sounds too much like work - but I could!)

So the moment a company "seeks validation" of their Perpetual Motion machine, I don't suspect, I know: Some con-artist is looking to fleece some unwary investor.

Investor Beware.

08 August 2006

Early Start to Summer Planting

So, based on the general mildness of the weather this Winter (despite last week's flooding) I've put a bunch of seeds into seed-trays a bit earlier than I normally would.  Yesterday I planted a whole wad of Chillis - Jalapenos, Serranos, Red Hats (really called Bishops' Hat, but in this household renamed for obvious reasons,) Ancho, New Mex, Pasilla, Tabasco, Cherry Peppers, plus a weird one that showed-up last year that I'm going to try to get breeding true - Hot Bananas - a cross (likely) between Sweet Banana and something hotter.  They really were very nice, though.  I'll have to grow up enough plants to select seed from those that seem true.

Then, too, I am still planting Cabbages and Leeks.  The young Leeks out in their beds are just reaching pencil-thickness, and are so tender and delicious that we're using them fast, so more are called for.

Still wondering whether to give early-early Tomatoes a go...

03 August 2006

Heavy Weather

We received over 200mm of rain in total over the past 48 hours.  Fortunately it has stopped now, and the sky seems to be clearing in the West.  (Update: Its raining again!)  All we need now is for the power to come back on.  Power dropped last night almost exactly at 7p.m.  and is still off.  At first we thought it was just part of Eskom's rolling blackout program, but, at 8:30 the next morning, clearly this is something else.  Trees down on powerlines, perhaps.

The veggie garden seems to have come through it pretty well, though I see the little hoofprints of a bushbuck who took advantage of the dog sleeping inside.

02 August 2006

It rained, and it rained, and it rained.

And the Piglets are entirely surrounded by water.

Checking the rain-gauge brought only heartbreak.  >100mm is all I can record.  The chicken-run is a river; all the neighbourhood dams are overflowing in torrents.  I guess the water-tanks are full, but I'll be buggered if I'm going out in the rain again to check.  The veggie garden is awash, though coping quite well - I did not see any serious damage, despite the dam near the house overflowing through the veggie garden.  It was quite carefully designed so that the overflow goes through the middle where I planted only permanent herbs, avoiding any of the veggie beds.

The road out is flooded - local farmers are tractoring out the cars of people foolish enough to attempt the crossing.  And here's me without a supply of Scotch laid in :-O

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