Permaculture Sydney North this month: A trip to Mudgee, disease-proofing with food, straw bale gardens, beeswax, bush medicine, and more...
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News & Events

October 2015
One of my favourite things about permaculture is the principle of 'sharing the excess' produce. We live at a rental property so we grow most things in movable pots and tubs. But we do have a lawn. A huge lawn. That's a whole lot of mowing and more grass-cuttings than we can use, but there's no way we'd put them in our green bin. That's permaculture composting gold!

So over the last year, Chris and I have given a lot of our grass cuttings to Stephanie, who has a comparably small lawn in her large, productive, permaculture garden. In return she kindly watered our plants while we were away, and last month she shared three bags of gorgeous compost made partly from our cuttings.

Sharing the excess doesn't just have to be about a bumper harvest that you can't eat. It can be excess clothes, excess time, excess anything! And it can be planned. Why not pop in a few extra seeds next time you are planting, and share your extra seedlings with your neighbours
or bring them to a PSN meeting to share with some new people. And if you don't use your grass clippings, find someone who will!

Cat Dorey, Newsletter Editor

- Upcoming Events -

Image result for summer holiday car trip images Weekend Trip to Mudgee 

Friday 16th–Sunday 18th October, Mudgee

There are just a few places left on our member-only trip to Mudgee this weekend!

We will visit some of the fine sustainable food and wine offerings of the region, and visit Rosemary and Barry Hadaway's developing permaculture property (including a straw bale house) for a tour and casual BBQ campfire.

This is a self-drive (or car-pooling) trip, departing on Friday evening. You will need to arrange your own accommodation. Some sites have entry fees.

Please ring Stephanie on 0412 489 263 with any queries.

For more details and to register click here.

PSN October Gathering: Disease-proofing ourselves with versatile, easy to grow garden foods

7pm Monday 19st October, Lindfield

PSN member Ann Taylor has a passion for educating people about the connection between food and health, and in helping people to change to a diet and lifestyle that can bring bring more energy, vitality and happiness.

Ann will combine her nutritional knowledge and permaculture experience to talk to us about some versatile and easy-to-grow vegetables, like yacon and styrian pumpkins, that have great health benefits.

For more details click here.

PNB October Gathering: Short Film Festival & The Great Seed Swap

7.30–9.30pm Thursday 22nd October, Warriwood

Tonight we’re showing two 30-minute films:

Seeds of Freedom – the impacts of GMO seeds, and the changes people are making to bring more equitable solutions. Narrated by Jeremy Irons.

Hope in a Changing Climate – Successful large scale ecological restoration projects from China to Jordan & Africa, featuring Australia's Permaculture guru, Geoff Lawton, alongside world leading ecologists.  

The Great Seed Swap: Bring along seeds & seedlings to for our special PNB seed savers swap table.

For more details click here.

Workshop: How to Make Household Products from Beeswax

2–4 pm Saturday 24th October, Waverton

There’s more to beeswax than candlemaking! This wonderful natural product has been used for millenia as a sealant, a waterproofing agent and for its preserving qualities. It has a place in the modern household, particularly if you want to avoid chemicals. 

We will learn how to waterproof cotton or linen to make safe food wraps, mix a leather shoe treatment, and create furniture polish.

For more details and to book your place click here.

PSN October Permabee

9am–4 pm Sunday 25th October, Thornleigh

The Garden Team heads to Bronwyn's garden in Thornleigh for October's Permabee!

The main project for the day will be building the zone 1 raised bed (3 or 4 bricks high) and preparing a no-dig bed inside it. 

Please join us for a fun day sharing skills and helping a fellow member.

For more details and to register click here.

Bush food & medicine tour with Jake Cassar

10am–1 pm Sunday 8th November, Kariong

Jake Cassar is a passionate conservationist, bushfood teacher and trainer, reconciliation activist and singer song writer.

From a young age Jake was more at home in the bush than in a class room, and became close friends with an indigenous family of the Nunawal people. Through them he learned the indigenous names of plants and uses, and was inspired to develop this knowledge further.

Members $15, guests $20. To book, email Dan:

For more details click here.

But wait – there's more!

Check out our events listings on our PSN and PNB websites. There are other events planned for November, and more will be added as we finalise the details:

Permaculture Sydney North

Permaculture Northern Beaches
 - News & Fun Stuff -

WANTED: More hands to help run PSN in 2016!

If we want to keep PSN running, we urgently need more people on the Management Committee (MC) next year. It's been a tough year for the current team with so many of us over-committed at work, travelling and other things!

As well as the key roles of President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Membership Secretary, there are many other roles people can take - organising stalls at fairs, permabees, speaker events, and workshops; writing the newsletter; promoting PSN in social media; maintaining the website; taking minutes at MC meetings; building relationships with councils; and more.

You don't have to take on a specific role – you can try your hand at different things. What counts is more people and ideas to help us spread the workload, and make decisions about events to organise and using membership fees in the best way.

Nomination forms for joining the MC will be sent to members soon. If you have any questions, please speak to any of the current team or email us.

Management Committee

Education Team News

Mini-education talks: The October Mini-Ed talk at the beginning of the PSN monthly meeting will be on the secret world of Companion Planting and Guilds followed in November by Stacking. Whilst these short talks will not tell you everything, they are designed to introduce you to the concept and the benefits of exploring these related topics. Please consider bringing your examples and stories to share at supper time.

Introduction to Permaculture Course February 2016: The pencilled-in dates for this course are subject to a couple of confirmations. Please note in your diary the following eight Saturdays. 6th February – 19th March inclusive PLUS 2nd April. At $250, this is a super bargain available only to PSN members and a gift to you from the presenters. Some of you may wish to put it on your Christmas present wish list for your nearest and dearest. The PSN website will open for bookings on 20th October 2015. For many of us, doing the Introduction to Permaculture course has been the beginning of a new perspective on life – and this is not an exaggeration!

Kuring-gai Local Group & Education Team collaboration: Following the October Companion Planting and Guilds forum, the education component of the December local group meeting will be a presentation and discussion on Zones. This is another core element of Permaculture and will give members an insight into the planning process. We will be inviting all members to join us.

Education & Garden Team collaboration: Watch out for Designing and Installing a Pond in Your Garden as part of your education in a practical setting.

In the pipeline: Balcony gardens, courtyards, small gardens, gardening for renters.

Ideas: We really do appreciate feedback. Please continue to send your ideas for education events to Diana.

Diana Watson, Education Team Leader

Do you need pond liner or bird netting?

Our garden team is considering a bulk purchase of pond liner for ponds and wicking beds, and netting for excluding possums and birds.  The reduced bulk cost would be split between members. Pond liner is available in a variety of widths from 3m to 20m, so we can buy what suits most needs.

Firestone EDPM Pond liner is $10 per square meter + GST:

Heavy Birdnet 63gsm, is $0.65 per square meter + GST and freight:

Don't forget: PSN members can always seek assistance from the Garden Team to install these products as part of a Permabee. Please let Shawn know ASAP if you are interested.

Shawn Buchan, Garden Team Leader

Making a Straw Bale Garden

Our Hornsby group, with help from others, had a stand at the recent Fagan Park Eco-garden Open Day (see the main photo at the top of the newletter). It was great to be able to support the Eco-garden and for members to meet up, and talk to interested visitors. One of the features that attracted people were the straw bale gardens made by Hornsby member Claire. They made great show pieces, and are an interesting option for people with rental gardens – as I well know as they ended up in mine! I thought we'd share Claire's instructions.

Conditioning the bale:
Day 1–3: Water the bale daily with the straw cut-side up.
Day 4–14: Water with a high nitrogen solution – Nitrosol, urea, or to be more in line with permaculture, human urine.
Day 15–25 or longer: Water daily and monitor the internal bale temperature. Once the bale cools it is ready to be planted.

Cut and pull out straw in small pot shapes, fill with potting mix and plant with seeds or seedlings. Holes can be made in the sides for extra planting space.

Keep a single bale planted at the kitchen door for easy access, or arrange several as a raised bed. The bales will last two seasons and can then be pulled apart and composted. If you plan to transport them to a show, or maybe as a gift for a friend, set them up on half a wooden pallet. Be warned – they are quite heavy so you'll need a few strong people and a wheel barrow or similar.

This newsletter needs you!

As well as regular events, we need photos, news, reports from events, and ideas for the Fun Stuff section.

We also have a blog on our website that is sadly underused at the moment!

We usually send out the newsletter around the second Monday of the month, but you can send items & ideas to me at anytime.

Cat Dorey, Communications Team Leader

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