Tag Archives: #organicfarming

Five Ways to Propagate Plants

Ahh Propagation, lately this seems to have been my life. I love how simple and easy it is to get more plants for free. And when you’re trying to set up a small nursery or start your own veggie garden in your backyard it’s a great way to turn a hobby into a little bit of side cash and provide food for the family. I’ll save divulging too much about my new nursery for my next post though. Today i want to talk about propagating plants, or turning one plant or the fruit of a plant into lots of plants!!

Plant Seeds

Let’s start with the original and mother natures very own propagation method. Planting seeds! Seeds can range from the size of a pinhead to the size of your head depending on what you are dealing with. They are the eggs of life grown by every fruit tree, native tree, ornamental tree, cactus, vegetable and flower on Earth. It’s how they naturally reproduce. Seeds can be collected from every piece of fruit or vegetable that you eat. You can gingerly pick them from the outside of strawberries, scoop them from the gooey centre of a tomato or passionfruit, squeeze them out of juicy oranges, delicately extract them from a cucumber or zucchini, or tear them right from the heart of your pumpkin. I could go on for hours but i’m sure you get the point. After you have extracted your seeds they will need to be cleaned and set to dry for a couple of days, some prefer shade but most like a sunny position, the kitchen windowsill is the perfect place, (best to do a little research on the seed you are dealing with). Next is the fun part, getting your hands dirty and planting your seeds, poke small holes in the soil with your finger and place two or three seeds in each hole. Water thoroughly and keep the soil damp for the next 5 – 21 days depending on what you’re trying to grow and then watch the magic.. very slowly unfold right before your eyes.

My current collection of capsicum, pumpkin and tomato seeds from dinner last night

Take cuttings

Taking cuttings from plants is a great way to get more plants, and its quicker than planting from seed. What you will need is a mother plant, a sterile pair of garden clippers or scissors, some rooting powder or gel, (depending on the plant a small glass of water), and a small pot full of healthy seed starting soil. To get started find the newest green growth on the mother plant, choose a spot just above where the new growth has started, it should still be flexible not woody, cutting here will stimulate the mother to continue growing rather than having nothing fresh to shoot from and its the perfect spot to allow new roots to grow from the cutting. Once you have chosen your new baby, cut it off at a 45 degree angle, pluck the leaves at the base of the stem leaving only the top 2-5 leaves on, dip it in the rooting hormone and depending on the plant, place it in the pot and tamp down the soil to hold it in place and water it for full saturation of the soil or place it in a glass of water on the window sill. Plants like lavender and rosemary can go straight into the soil, whereas tomato and chilli plants like to sit in a glass of water for a few days. New roots should start to grow within the next 10 days for smaller fast growing plants and after a few months you should be able to propagate your propagations. (note, this should be done in the early morning or late afternoon when it isn’t so hot)

Rosemary cuttings
Tomato cuttings and Spring onions

Remove and replant pups

This one is more for ornamental garden plants that after time spread out over the area they are growing in, they send their roots wide not deep and then sprout another plant. a secondary feature some plants have developed to continue on their line. These are some of the easiest plants too propagate because they have already grown root systems to support being cut from the mother plant and replanted. Using a sharp, clean pair of clippers, cut on a 45 degree angle to remove the pup. You can dip the cut area into powdered charcoal to help prevent rot, but with most of these plants it’s not 100% necessary. Then replant it straight in the desired position, you are likely to see some dieback from transplant shock but just remove dead leaves as they wilt to allow the plant to focus its energy on roots and new growth rather than struggling to keep the old ones alive.

Just a few of the pups i pulled from my dads garden.

Air Layering

Air layering is so cool! I absolutely love this method, this is how you propagate trees! What you will need is; A sharp, sterile knife, a bucket, some soil, peat moss, water, some aluminium foil and some plastic glad wrap. Start by choosing the branch that you wish to propagate, a 1-2 year old one works best. Next take your knife and about halfway down the branch gently peel off the top layer of bark about 1 inch long the whole way around the branch. In your bucket mix your soil, peat moss and water together to make some delicious root growing mud. Then get a piece of foil about a 30cm (1 foot) long and load it with your mud mixture, spread it out and then wrap it around the cut on the branch, wrap i final layer of glad wrap around this to seal it tight and hold in the moisture. Leave it on the tree for about 3 months then cut the branch off below your mud wrap, remove the foil and plant your brand new tree!! This method tricks the tree into thinking its branch has fallen to the ground, so the tree starts pumping energy to the area of the cut telling it to grow roots, all while keeping the branch and the rest of the tree alive.

Ground Layering

And finally, ground layering. This method is best used for vines and bushes, and its super simple, all you need is a pot full of soil and some form of weight. Find a new growth nodule on your vine, bend the vine over so that the desired node is in the centre of your pot (you may need a small table or something higher than the ground to sit your pot on). Cover the node with soil and weigh it down with a small rock, water regularly and in a few weeks you should be able to cut off the section vine that is attached to the mother plant and you’ll have yourself a new vine.

Propagation master Chris Norris working his magic on the rare Jade flower vine

So there you have it folks, one of my very favourite pass times in a nutshell of knowledge for you. Propagation is a beautiful way to commune with nature, get your hands dirty and test your patience. I certainly do not have a 100% success rate but failures are just lessons in disguise. Thank you all for reading and if you decide to try any of these i would love to hear how you go with. Enjoy your free plants and for more information on plants and permaculture check out my other posts by clicking one of the links below 🙂

“There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.”

The Banana Circle Revolution Begins

A revolution is upon us in many ways. From what I can see, more and more people are waking up and getting invested in the environment or growing their own food. I have just returned to Australia from six months volunteering on permaculture farms and eco-retreat centres in Costa Rica. The trip was absolutely incredible, I had the pleasure of living in community with about 40 uniquely inspirational beings over three equally different locations. The first place i stayed was an eco-retreat centre called Cascada Elysiana. A beautiful slice of jungle just outside of the tiny town of Platanillo, with a stunning 70 foot waterfall on the property, just a 10 minute walk through the jungle. Cascada Elysiana is where I saw my very first Banana Circle, and I loved it!

Cascada Elysiana Main Lodge, Kitchen and chill lounge

The concept of a banana circle was new to me when i arrived but when I laid eyes on the monstrous bunches of bananas hanging from each of the 6 thick banana trees encircling a giant hole in the ground filled with organic kitchen scraps and leaf matter from pathway cleanups, I knew it was a stroke of genius! And to top it all off , the pipes from the kitchen sinks were run right into the centre of the circle.

The grey water that runs from the sinks to the circle (an eco friendly dishwashing detergent is used) helps to speed up decomposition process and waters the trees. The decomposing leaf matter and organic kitchen scraps feed the trees all their nutrients and the banana trees grow extra fast with delicious bunches of bananas hanging from their trunks. This is one of those epic multi-faceted permaculture gardening processes i spoke about in my last post “What Permaculture Means”.

Bunch O’ Bananas!!

How to Make A Banana Circle

  1. Dig a large hole around 1-1.5 metres (around 4 feet) in diameter and 300mm deep (1 foot). Place all of the excess dirt into mounds around the outside of the circular hole.
  2. Plant Banana trees in the mound around the perimeter of the hole.
  3. Start using the hole as your compost pile (add organic waste, leaf matter, livestock manure and grass clippings).
  4. (Optional step) Make adaptions to your pipes from the kitchen sink or the washing machine. Make sure you are using an eco friendly soap if you choose to take this step. Utilising grey water, waters the plants and is a great use of recycling and utilising renewable resources. If re-working your pipes isn’t an option, then you will have to water the trees and compost manually.
  5. Feel free to interplant pineapples or other shrubby plants in between the banana trees.

How to get Banana Trees

If you live in a tropical or subtropical region, you will be able to grow bananas all year round. You can buy young trees at most nurseries or on Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji or Craigslist, depending on your location. Or if you know someone with banana trees you can ask them for either a pup that is growing next to a mother tree, (dig out around the pup being careful not to damage the roots and the gently untangle the roots from the mother tree, refill the hole and pot up the pup for safe keeping until you return to your own circle) or from a root stock of a recently harvested tree, (Dig the root stock out and replant it in your circle). About 6 trees is perfect for aesthetics but you can start with one and use the propagation methods i just explained over the next few years to get more.

Banana Tree Pups

How to Harvest Bananas

Harvesting bananas is best done in the early morning before it gets too hot. You will need a sharp saw or preferably a machete. Cut down the banana tree at the base when the bunch is still green (the bunch will be too heavy to cut off the tree whilst it is still standing and banana trees will only fruit once per growth. But don’t feel bad for cutting the tree down because a new one will sprout from the existing root stock and grow another fruiting tree. Once the tree is felled, cut the bunch off the tree and hang it somewhere shady to ripen. To hang the bananas we used a screw on the underside of a staircase and some bailing tie. Make a large loop with the bailing tie and thread it underneath the third or fourth layer of bananas and around the stem, this will be strong enough to hold the weight of the bunch without damaging the goods.

Beginnings of a big Naani bunch

Fun Facts About Bananas

  1. There are over 100 different varieties of banana but we only mass produce two of them. Ladyfinger and Cavendish.
  2. Banana trees are actually classed as a type of grass.
  3. You can use banana leaves as plates, fans, shades for seedlings, and to steam cook tamales.
  4. You can use banana peels as a potassium boost directly in your garden or house pots, Or leave them to leech in a bucket of water for a day and then water your garden with it.
  5. You can hold a banana on both ends and pull outwards and it will break perfectly in half without damage (almost every time). Great for splitting with a friend.
  6. If you harvest a bunch of bananas in the morning they will ripen from the bottom up, but if you do it in the heat of the day they will all ripen at once.

At the end of my trip in Costa Rica I met a girl from the states at a pizza night and we chatted for hours about how amazing Banana circles are and we vowed to start the Banana Revolution to get everyone involved. This post is dedicated to Hannah. The Banana Revolution has Begun!!! I would also like to give a special mention to https://www.cascadaelysiana.com/ and MAK for letting me stay with you for 6 weeks and play in your gardens 🙂 Thank you to everyone who reads this and I hope it gets you as excited about Bananas and growing food as i am! Please check out my other posts for more information on other topics.

What Permaculture Means

Hello and welcome to my very first post about Permaculture. Let’s get started with a rundown on what Permaculture is and what this means to me. A lot of people have been asking me what i am up to lately, and when i mention the word permaculture i get strange questioning looks and then the comment “Oh thats being self sustainable and stuff yeah?” And to an extent this is true but it is so much more than that. Some people find permaculture to be too broad a topic and shy away from it because there is just too much to learn. I’m here to help with that by simplifying the basic principles of permaculture. There are twelve principles that help to define the practice and these principles fall into three main categories.

The categories;

  1. Earth Care.
  2. People Care
  3. Fair Share

The 12 Principles of Permaculture

  1. Observe and interact; This means watching the space you’re working with to see how much sunlight a certain area gets, how rain water flows on the property, which direction prevalent winds come from or what kind of potentially destructive wildlife share your land. And then implementing things like shades, drainage or water harvesting systems, planting wind-blocking plants and building fences.
  2. Catch and Store Energy; This could be as simple as placing large buckets under areas of your gutters that may leak to catch water when it rains and can go as far as installing water tanks, building dams or digging swales or chinampas (small trenches around your garden beds that water naturally flows to and allows easy access to root systems). You could also install solar panels, build thick earth structures that heat up from the sun and store heat through its thermal mass, windmills or hyrdo-pumps.
  3. Obtain a Yield; Whether is be fruit, vegetables, herbs for cooking or medicine, honey from bees, eggs, milk or meat or all of the above, whatever your goals are, obtain yourself a yield and share it with your friends and family, it feels amazing to harvest something you have grown yourself.
  4. Apply Self-regulation and Accept Feedback; Create a system that over time will be able to self regulate, this can be done through means of companion planting (plants that grow well together and benefit others) plant trees to provide shade and that drop their leaves throughout the year providing mulch to the garden, plant flowers to attract bees and strong scented herbs to deter pests. experiment with these systems and if something isn’t working accept the feedback from the plants and apply changes.
  5. Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services; Renewable resources are anything that naturally occurs over and over again in a natural environment. Using old wood that has fallen from trees as fire wood for heat rather than an electric heater. Using chickens and pigs to help turn garden beds post harvest and utilising animal manure for fertilisers and composting. Let nature take its course and utilise its byproducts to your own benefit.
  6. Produce no waste; This means getting thrifty, reduce your intake and minimalise spending on unnecessary items, avoiding single use plastics, compost organic waste materials rather than throwing them away, recycle glass bottles and jars (take them to a recycle depot or turn them into little planter pots or even fill them with any single use plastics you do happen to use and make eco structures out of them). Instead of throwing away tree pruning use them at the bottom of garden beds to create a self composting garden that continually provides nutrients to the soil on its own.b
  7. Design from Patterns to Details; Using the first 6 principles observe how nature does it and recreate that in your own garden. A forest has multiple layers, all in which provide a necessary aspect to its health and continuation. Design your garden using zones, things you need everyday are grown close to the house (herbs and leafy greens for salads) while things that don’t require daily attention are planted further away (fruit trees, food forests and livestock). Then get down to the details of exactly what it is you want to grow and where would be the best location for it.
  8. Integrate Rather Than Segregate; Unlike regular agricultural and horticultural process’ where mono-cropping is the norm, permaculture integrates multiple systems that work harmoniously with nature rather than against it. This comes back to companion planting and growing a multitude of plants and animals that benefit each other.
  9. Use small and Simple Solutions; Permaculture definitely plays “the long game” everything from growing your own food, composting, to soil regeneration takes time. but it’s the time we take to make all of these beautiful things come to fruition that makes it so worth it! There is no use of herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilisers in these practices. We employ nature herself to do the work for us and yes it takes a little longer but it’s a million times more beneficial for your health and the environment than traditional practices.
  10. Use and Value Diversity; Again we think about polyculture farming and companion planting but this principle goes deeper on a human ecology level. We live on a planet with over 8 billion people, hundreds of different cultures and ways of living. There are incredible things to learn from the diversity of people surrounding us. Learn from diverse practices and apply it to your own situation.
  11. Use Edges and value the Marginal; An example of edges and the marginal in nature are the banks of a river, the river flows depositing nutrients and debri on the banks as it goes, these nutrients provide food for close by trees which in turn provide shade and homes for animals to live, who then spread seeds from the tree depositing them back to the earth for a new tree to one day grow. All of these systems benefit each other without even knowing they are doing so. Taking note of these systems and realising the importance of the countless other systems like it is a great way to begin understanding the effects that even the smallest things can have on the environment around us and help us to start making more conscious decisions in our day to day lives.
  12. Creatively use and Respond to Change; Life itself is a constant swirling motion of change, everyday new changes occur within our daily lives and our bodies. To creatively adapt to these changes and flow with them is the essence of permaculture. We can apply this in the garden as well. If you are starting fresh on previously degraded land, and planted fast growing nitrogen fixing trees such as Ylang Ylang, and then planted slower growing fruit trees in the shade of these and herbs, flowers and other vegetables around the base of the fruit trees. eventually the need for the pioneering Ylang Ylang will no long be necessary as the system has changed to support itself and the nutrients within the soil are building and getting stronger the whole time. This is a successful adaptation to change.
Garden beds, Trellises for pumpkin & zucchini and a Clothesline all in one
Small harvest from the garden with my first ever straightish carrots!

So permaculture is a multifaceted system that provides food and energy for you and your community, it works with nature rather than against her and regenerates previously degraded land utilising natural resources and renewable resources. I hope that this post have been helpful and maybe even inspiring. Thank you for reading and please subscribe to stay tuned for more specific informationals and lessons, or click one of the links below to continue learning.

True wealth is in your health, so take care of yourself 🙂

Paul Izak

My Mission and Me

Hello, My name is Ben, I am a 25 year old Permaculture and environmental enthusiast.

I live in sunny Queensland, Australia and have been studying and practicing Permaculture and ecological landscaping for a few years now and I am here today to provide information and lessons on all of the beautiful things that permaculture and land care have to offer.

On this page i plan to cover a wide range of topics that will help you get on your way to becoming more eco-friendly, to provide food for yourself, family and neighbours and how we can all make a positive difference to our environment.

Why am I doing this?

  • I want to see our beautiful planet return to its former glory.
  • I want to help to educate those who do not have the time or money for courses.
  • I love the art of growing.. Whether it be plants, trees, food or spirituality

So a little bit about me and my dreams. I have been working in the landscaping industry for three years now, In this time my passion for nature and our planet has grown exponentially. I’ve planted hundreds of trees, started my own backyard nursery, and spent countless hours researching ways to grow my own organic food, propagate plants, germinate seeds, make healing tinctures and oils, create black gold, companion planting and lots lots more, and i want to share all of this knowledge with you. My dream is to one day own my very own piece of land where i can start from scratch and develop a permaculture farm and education centre.

If you are interested in;

  • Growing healthy organic produce.
  • Learning about landcare and how we play a major part.
  • Making medicinal tinctures, oils, salves and balms.
  • Raising healthy chickens.
  • Utilising small urban areas for abundant growth.
  • Companion planting.
  • Or like me, anything permaculture related

Then please stay tuned and don’t forget to subscribe for all of my posts and updates about my adventures, misadventures, achievements and mistakes as I embark on my Journey of Growth within the permaculture lifestyle and organic farming industry.