Mandala gardens with chook domes

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Huxter
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Location: Goulburn Valley Nth Victoria

Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby Huxter » Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:52 pm

Hi Heidi

I thought it more reasonable to start a new topic here as it excites me that someone else has gone this path .Our friends have had the system running for 3-4 years and I've never seen a better or more productive and fertile garden !

Our clay here means I usually work my a..e off to improve soils ,mainly with raised or no dig beds with spuds in them the first year .So I've laid out my circles marked with bricks ,fertilised the weedy lawn existing in two beds ,dug the others over ,added huge amounts of compost ,manure etc and planted them up with heaps of silverbeet ,lettuces etc .The seeds came from our friends mandala garden as they have hundreds of seeds each year .So the chooks will start on the lawn areas before moving to a silverbeet bed when it runs to seed .I also need to access some kithen scraps from one of the local pubs to fill out their feed requirements ,plus some pellets I expect .

Our friends have also gone for geodesic domes as the originals didn't last long in a big wind and collapsed .Have you used poly joiners or just drilled and tied off the joints .I thought of buying heaps of joiners and gluing the lot together.And I also will move the chooks around ,in and out of the dome to give them a bit more excercise .My site is dead flat too .

Our friends have planted quite a few Kangaroo Apples around the garden which the chooks and Guinea fowl love ,and it has a lovely flower and is quite indestructible in drought conditions .So I have about 15 seedlings growing on in pots to plant out around the garden . I intend to fence the entire site when I get the time ,mainly to keep out the hares which have bred up around here .And last year I built 2 x40mts lengths of espaliered apples which can be just inside the boundary fences so it will alll tie in .Now I'm thinking about beehives for pollinators ---anyone here keeping bees ??? We are surrounded by pasture so bees sometimes miss us and I have to hand pollinate .All the telly gardeners are into bees at the minute ,aren't they !

Anyone else read Linda Woodrow's book on mandala gardens and chook domes ---great food for thought and ideas can be readily altered to suit your own circumstances and conditions

Paul
The world needs you to grow your own food!!

greenfarmers
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby greenfarmers » Tue Oct 20, 2009 7:43 pm

Huxter wrote:.Have you used poly joiners or just drilled and tied off the joints .I thought of buying heaps of joiners and gluing the lot together


Hi Paul,

When you say poly are you meaning PVC? We used the white 20mm class 12 pipe, as recommended in Linda's book.

We drilled and tied off the joints with galvanised tie wire, after vaguely assembling the whole thing with zip-ties and/or silver tape first. To be honest it was hilarious, because although there are pretty good plans at http://www.milkwood.net/content/view/83/30/ the printer would not work, so we thought we'd go without plans, except for the basic measurements given. But we'd never paid much attention to what a geodesic dome was (missed that maths lesson at school, or it was too long ago) ... so we did it, and re-did it and redid it until eventually we figured out what joined to what, laughing at our own incompetence.

We've found it's a great dome because it is shorter and so hugs our hill nicely in the wind. We have friends who have gone the LW way and although their dome is lovely and high, so the roost is well off the ground making it safer for predators, it does appear to not be quite as sturdy. Purple Pear http://www.purplepear.net.au/ is a CSA grower who also uses the Lw system and chook domes. They've had a little trouble with them in the wind though, with pipe snapping I think.

Having become a touch purist about organics, I have been loathe to ask for fruit and veggie scraps from shops ... very limiting approach unfortunately. We get anything we don't grow from a fantastic local organic farm gate seller, but sadly they use all their scraps and stock which doesn't sell for compost .. so we'll need to use our own green manure and on farm mulch I'm thinking, with a little cow manure bought in from a local organic producer.

It's very exciting though - when you're doing trays of seed, do you do them the way she talks about - ie from trays into bottom-less tubes for minimal root disturbance? After first thinking it was double-handling, I am about to go this route I think, hoping it will reduce transplant shock when it is so hot.

Has anyone else delved into the Linda Woodrow book? - if not I highly recommend it because of the simple and prescriptive method.

We're loving it,

Heidi

Huxter
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Location: Goulburn Valley Nth Victoria

Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby Huxter » Tue Oct 20, 2009 8:46 pm

Yes Heidi

I do mean the white 20mm PVC tube .I found that at Bunnings there are many different joiners ,elbows ,t-pieces etc available so that it would be possible to construct the dome using these and have a very rigid structure .A lot more work but it would last a lot longer .Also our friends used panels of aviary wire ,cut to shape and overlapped a bit ,-once again overkill ,but her's has gone the distance .She went to the trouble of having a tent maker fit the tarp to the dome and it is very secure in wind .Hers always has the open side facing east ,with the fully covered side to the west. She uses discarded mower gras catchers as nesting boxes .And her entrance flap is velcroed on three sides .And very large pegs driven in with a sledge hammer to prevent any incursion by wandering night visitors !

I'll try and get a start next week on my dome ,maybe two .But at the moment with spring milk flowing beautifully we are making 800 litres a day into cheese so my days are completely taken up .I know why my garndparents gave up milking all those years ago ---you never get a break !! Tomorrow we are making Cheshire cheddar and a Stilton-style blue --all handmade and hard work but delicious results !

Paul
The world needs you to grow your own food!!

ellengray
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby ellengray » Wed Oct 21, 2009 4:48 am

I know I am supposed to know this instinctively ... but what are mandala gardens and chook domes? Mandala gardens to me equate to some kind of buddhist zen thing (unless we are talking of Rebecca's marital home,in which I am with you entirely), and I wonder if the chook dome is the same kind of pigeon dome the neighbour has? :) I am not even going to go near the lw method. ;)

I have thick clay shale soil but I found it relatively easy to turn it into fertile black loam with an awful lot of pea straw.

Huxter
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby Huxter » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:39 am

Aa mandala is just a central circle with 6 equal size circles around it .It is the most efficient way to use space .Maybe the "zen loony ,beat poet, organic rice doobie smokers" might find it generates energy and cosmic consciousness .I find that I have to do that ! And now the chooks will help do a lot of the tilling ,waste conversion and manuring confined for intense periods in the domes before going on holidays to the chook run .


My paths are 80 cm wide ,enough for a wheelbarrow ,and the circles 3 mts in diameter .And easy to work around and water .And it looks beautiful ,even better if you were a bird .I know cos I got on the roof to clean the chimney and sat looking at the pattern for 5 mins.

I drew mine on paper first then pegged it out with oodles of tent pegs and every hose I had ,and laid the brick edges .
I can't wait for all the seedlings to grow .Seeing that I'm planting some small tres around the edges I don't anticipate it fully working for a couple of years .I can wait .I have plenty of other garden beds producing well till then .

Heidi ,I must admit to using odd fruit and yoghurt containers for seedlings but these beds were just hand cast with seed given to me by our friend with the LW garden , bags of captured seed she nets . Normally I use the trays you can buy at nurseries so I can move them about the house for warmth .I also grow stuff on the heated dog blanket --the dog won't use it ! so I lay heavy plastic on it and put my trays on that .

Cheers

Paul
The world needs you to grow your own food!!

greenfarmers
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby greenfarmers » Wed Oct 21, 2009 12:04 pm

Morning Ellen,

As Paul has explained, the circles of the mandala give you the most fantastic easy to work in layout - (ie six circular garden beds around a center one which has a little pond ideally) ... minimising the amount of paths needed to properly access your garden beds - the theory being you should not tread in them.

Mandalas have been around for eons - a basic design often mentioned in permaculture tomes - but Linda Woodrow wrote a fantastic very easy to read book called "the Permaculture Home Garden" and took things one step further. She introduced chickens to the garden in dome-like enclosures which are moved from bed-to bed each fortnight (not too hard for one person to do this, but two people are useful to stop chickens escaping!). By this method, the chickens dig up the old beds and get them ready for planting - thereby doing all the hard work and fertilising the bed which you them plant a few days after moving them onto the next one.

If you're interested in more info, the purple pear link I put into my last post has a more expanded explanation.

We've gone with the concept because it overcomes the need to dig the garden :lol: and it's great for the chickens which we struggle to let out because of foxes, wedgetail eagles and chicken hawks. In theory, once the system is up and running, we should not need to buy in food for the chickens as they go into the spent veggie patches and also you grow green manure in the middle for them too. It's also nice and orderly which we liked because one day this garden might be a demo one for people who visit our accommodation. And if you start to draw several mandalas together, there is some magical patterning which amused me - and I haven't even taken the usual drugs associated with hippie gardeners ;)

Two mandalas (ie two groups of six circles) is supposed to easily rotate 12 chooks in one dome and feed a family - we thought in time we might work three or four mandalas ... in time! It's quite hard work though getting the first beds up and running, adding fruit trees and wind breaks to the edge, edge planting, etc etc. It looks like it will be worth it though.

I first got Linda's book from my library, but have now bought my own copy because it has lots of useful ideas for succession planting of each bed, so that you can time the rotation of the chickens with the life of each bed. Tricky to learn - same also goes for fruit trees which hang over the outside of the beds ... means ideally the chickens are under the tree that's fruiting to collect what falls to the ground, so as to minimise fruit fly, which we have fun with here!

Paul - because we don't drink milk or eat yoghurt and I haven't found a stash of containers, I'm thinking I might just cut some 65mm pipe into 100mm lengths to transplant into? I am finding the young plants seem to get quite knocked around when transplanting outside at the moment because it is so hot. If Lw's method works, this should be minimised .. will test the theory and report back!

Heidi

Huxter
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby Huxter » Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:04 am

What about toilet roll centres ,or shaping wet newspaper around a suitable shape till dry ,slipping off the resultant cup and planting the seed into that ,then plant the lot out when ready . Makes you aware not to overwater seeds too as the cups will fall apart if sodden
One year we got tiolet roll centres from my wife's school , not too hygenic ,but hey ,they went straight to the potting shed !And last year the staff room lunchtime banana skins were collected and frozen till I had about 100 ,then I defrosted them ,and dug them into a trench next to where the tomatoes were going --instant pottassium boost ! -an idea from a friend of mine whe teaches organic gardening as a horticulturalist lecturer .

Therre are a million ideas out there ,aren't there !

Paul
The world needs you to grow your own food!!

minnie
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby minnie » Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:40 am

Quite right Paul,
There are a million ideas out there ,aren't there !

Sometimes we just need to think a bit diagonally ;)

Toilet roll centres sounds a good one!

I looked up the Mandala gardens, and wondered about the chooks, do you have a perch for them and what happens in terrible weather? I just imagine seeing them fly away in the wind we get here.

They do look a great way for flat areas though and looking forward to you and Heidi with pics. :)
:D
Vicki

greenfarmers
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby greenfarmers » Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:33 am

Morning all,

Funny you should mention toilet rolls Paul. I have been collecting ours and only a couple of days ago mentioned to Steve that we should ask his sister's family to save theirs because they are big consumers of toilet paper ... so I will keep you posted!

Ok Vicki, I've finally done it.

Pics are at http://s357.photobucket.com/albums/oo15 ... ouse-1.jpg - should bring up 4 new ones, including one of inside the dome, showing roost. When I first put them in, I have to admit feeling a little vulnerable for them, but it's so much happier for them because it's bigger than their old MCallum tractor which was impossible and heavy on the hill. The ideal is still free ranging, but not really possible here.

Pics relate to when we first began mapping out the mandala, hence the centre peg and rope to measure out with. Will soon take the complete mandala. From the dome pic you can also see our home is growing - finally have the rest of the roof up and yes, the wind blows less now. Height-phobic girl on a ladder holding down tin and insulation in flukey wind while boy worked fantically to screw it off -- all was a little too scary, but the wind blew and blew for weeks until we had it done! Walls and windows next, then we get a bedroom! yayyy!

Heidi

Bye for now,

Heidi

minnie
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby minnie » Thu Oct 22, 2009 12:43 pm

Hi Heidi,

Very interesting... thanks so much.

Certainly didn't go with wind, on that mountain side. ;)

Ours a free ranging at the moment, and it drives me nuts! They get into everything... they were locked in a big paddock but then even with a wing clipped worked out they could fly over. I'm planning a contained but good sized run, with a shed (one that sits in the paddock and is never used due to how the previous owner built it). But the mandala idea is something to think over even if for certain times of the year and to use just a few chooks? Hmmm food for thought.

The house is coming along well... gee whiz it must have almost blown you off that ladder!

Wind, it's a scourge at the minute, with all the heat.
:D
Vicki

alicelt
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby alicelt » Thu Oct 22, 2009 2:59 pm

Totally OT Heidi, but do you have a type of sealant on the floor or your shed (the one you are living in??Is it a shed/? Or am I confused by those photos?)

It looks like a plain concrete fllor, but shiny.

I have no money atm but am about to SCREAM over this shocking carpet and would love to just rip it up and run with concrete floors only, but someone told me they are dusty and disgusting unless you seal them first, so I thought I'd ask...

Ali

greenfarmers
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby greenfarmers » Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:45 pm

Hi Ali,

We're off topic a bit - so will put this in gen chat.

H

Huxter
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby Huxter » Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:02 pm

Chook domes--photos ?? ---yes , when we buy a new camera ,but Dad has some photos of our friends mandala garden so I've asked him to email them to me --her garden is beautiful ,and shares a fence with the Barmah Redgum Forest National Park ,so her bird life is extraordinary .I'll post the shots if Dad knows how to attach a photo !!! -- I shouldn't joke as he's well over 80 and uses his wireless laptop at the local coffee lounges like a teenager. Keeps in better contact now than when we used the phone .

Paul
The world needs you to grow your own food!!

greenfarmers
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby greenfarmers » Sat Oct 24, 2009 6:58 pm

There's some aspects of modern life which are so cool!

Looking forward to those pics.

Heidi

greenfarmers
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby greenfarmers » Fri Oct 30, 2009 12:12 pm

Good morning all,


Not sure if any of you watch Costa's Garden on SBS - last night had the Linda Woodrow mandala principal conveyed to perfection!

If anyone missed it, you can catch it here:

http://www.sbs.com.au/shows/costa/watch ... ch-Online/

Hope you are having an awesome day,

Heidi,who is off to sow corn, tomatoes, beans and pigeon peas in newspaper tubes made by my 11-year-old daughter, after she heard me talking about buying tube or using toilet rolls! They're wonderfully simple, easy to make and easy to use:D

Huxter
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby Huxter » Sun Nov 01, 2009 12:05 am

Did I watch it !!!! ---I did a mad Costa-type dance around the telly room in delight .He's been a breath of fresh air on Aussie tv .I hope many others did and embrace the sheer joy of gardening , growing you own food and cooking it and preserving it .

If only all the answers were so simple --- Food ,just grow it and eat it !!!
The world needs you to grow your own food!!

purplepear
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby purplepear » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:39 am

We do love our garden
regards
Mark
Purple Pear Organics
Biodynamic farm and Permaculture Education Centre
www.purplepear.net.au
INTENT-OBSERVATION-INTUITION

greenfarmers
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby greenfarmers » Thu Nov 05, 2009 4:28 pm

And it is worth loving Mark ... and a great role model to those like us who are much closer to the beginings of this journey - good to see you here too. Your advice has been very much appreciated by my family.

Heidi

minnie
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby minnie » Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:17 am

Hi Mark,

Welcome to the forum.

:D
Vicki

purplepear
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Re: Mandala gardens with chook domes

Postby purplepear » Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:54 pm

Thanks guys - I hope I can drop by often enough to learn from you lot. I am especially here for the cheese making which is becoming a passion for me. I need to do it more but talking about it is great and we also need to work on our preserving skills
thanks again for the welcome and good luck with your gardens
Mark
Purple Pear Organics
Biodynamic farm and Permaculture Education Centre
www.purplepear.net.au
INTENT-OBSERVATION-INTUITION


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