This month at PSN: International Permaculture Day is upon us! Plus permabees, seeking solutions for waste & pollution, troublesome ticks & toads!

News & Events
May 2017

Fish swim in a soup of plastic at a beautiful wreck dive site in Indonesia. (Photo: Cat Dorey)

In recent weeks I had the pleasure of diving in a remote part of Indonesia in the belief I would be swimming in pristine waters. Sadly, whilst some areas were, others were riddled with plastics of all kinds, which made my heart sink. Our marine life cannot tolerate the huge amounts of plastic that end up in our oceans. How can we change our habits and have a large impact on this growing problem?

I have noticed the growing level of interest in waste in recent months. It’s going mainstream, thankfully, with campaigns addressing the waste involved in takeaway coffee cups; the mountains of cheap, poor-quality clothes we throw out everyday; and our use of plastic bags. However, as we all know, the problem is much broader than this.

It is a pleasure to see solutions are being implemented too. Australia's first "rescued-food" supermarket has opened in Sydney - another great idea from the determined folk from OzHarvest. You can read all about it here.

We also heard news this week of a wax worm that eats plastic. It sounds wonderful, but wait a minute... Imagine if it got out and ate all the plastic in your household, what would you have left?

Why not share your ideas about solutions to our waste problems on our Facebook members page? That's what permaculture is about - solutions!

In the meantime, I hope to see you all at one of the many International Permaculture Day events on Sunday 7th!

Cecilia Bird, President

  Events: A Permaculture Tree Change
PSN Monthly Gathering

7pm Monday 15th May
Lindfield Community Centre

Barry & Rosemary Hadaway are back in Sydney to share their story of creating a permaculture paradise in Mudgee.

Many long-term PSN members will remember Barry and Rosemary, who were both very active in PSN until they moved from Sydney to Mudgee in 2013. They will share the details of their permaculture journey - how they planned and built a sustainable home, and what they have done so far to implement their permaculture plan.

PLUS: After such a successful plant & garden Crop Swap in March, we will be having a book, CD and DVD swap, along the same lines. This is a great opportunity to recycle any of these items that you no longer need, but will be of interest to others. Direct swaps and donations are encouraged rather than a "dump & dash"!

Free for members, $5 for guests. 

Doors open at 6:30pm - a good time to check out our members' library & catch up with other PSN members. Please join us for supper after the talk and swap.

Living Skills Workshop: Making eco-enzyme
2-4pm, Sat 20th May

Eco-enzyme is produced by fermentation of fruit & vegetable peels, dark sugar & water. It has many uses in the home & garden.

Register here.

Permabee: Compost bays, & no-dig gardens
9.30am-4pm, Sun 28th May
North Turramurra

Help Filipa expand her garden from her front curb orchard into her backyard, with new compost bays & no-dig garden beds.

Register here.

PNB Gathering: Transition Towns & Crop Swap
7.15pm, Thur 25th May

Lance Lieber, President of Transition Towns Sydney & Bondi, & Laurie Green, founder of Crop Swap Sydney, share their stories.

More here.

News & Other Bits

Chris & Margaret take a close look at their pond in preparation for IPD. (Photo: Sue Patterson)

International Permaculture Day 2017 is here!

You can't have missed the fact that the biggest event on the permaculture calendar is nearly upon us. Yes, it's this Sunday 7th May, and the weather is looking perfect!

A lot of our members have been very busy over the past month preparing for this. A big thank you to all those who helped at the IPD preparation permabees - shovelling, mulching, repairing, trimming, weeding, sweeping and sweating!

This year we have the opportunity to showcase much more than just our lovely PSN gardens - we have a variety of tours, talks and workshops available at both Moss House in Denistone and Permapatch & Repair Cafe in Chatswood both open from 10.30am until 4pm. We'd also love some more volunteers to help at both events - turn up when you can and lend a hand with taking names, selling plants, answering questions, and more.

We hope some of you will explore the range of events on offer in Newport and Mona Vale from our Northern Beaches team, and that others will go further afield to Western Sydney and the Central Coast - see the official website.

Take your pick and have a lovely day! And please, where ever you go, take some photos and consider sharing your experiences in our newsletter.

Cat Dorey, Newsletter Editor

Sue and Margaret in the late afternoon sunshine at Moss House permabee (Photo: Cat Dorey)

An extra Permabee!
9:30am to 4:00pm on Sunday 3rd June

Thanks to the inspiration of our Introduction to Permaculture Course we have more members who are keen to implement their plans. In addition to Filipa's event (see our regular events section above), we have a special Permabee!

On this occasion PSN are joining with Permablitz Sydney members to create a memorable day and get through plenty of work.

Jess and Phil are on their way retrofitting their house in Asquith (just north of Hornsby) with some triple glazed windows and an impressive solar system. It is now time to move to the yard and begin implementing their plan. 

Tasks include:

  • Adding a sod/succulent/wildflower roof to the existing chicken coop
  • Placing a water tank (plumbing to be done at a later date)
  • Building a retaining wall, creating a future garden bed
Please register for the Permabee here.

Wicking bed repair at Moss House - it always gets worse before it gets better! (Photo: Cat Dorey)

Do you need some help in your garden?

Pond liner is available to members for $15 per square metre (retail price is $22).

Garden tools can be borrowed from PSN's collection as long as you return them before the next permabee.

Permabees are available for your garden from July onwards. And you get a free frog pond built, with free pond liner (3 square m), if you have a permabee.

Contact Shawn for all your garden needs!

Shawn Buchan, Gardens Team

"See how a Seed, which Autumn flung down,
And through the Winter neglected lay, Uncoils two little green leaves and two brown, With tiny root taking hold on the clay" - William Allingham

A NEW regular PSN event - Seed saving mornings

Peter Pez is now running "seed saving" mornings on the 3rd Saturday of every month. You will learn how to harvest, store and propagate seeds. It's a great opportunity to swap and share your seeds (and seedlings) with others.

Bring along any seeds you have from your garden, and any spare small pots too. Tea coffee will be provided, but please bring some morning tea to share

The first event will be at 9am - 12pm on Saturday 20th May at 21 Scott Street in Marsfield. You don't need to register, just turn up and join in!

Peter Pezzolesi, Seed Saving Team
0412 817605

An engorged tick removed from a pet dog in Indonesia (Photo: Cat Dorey).

The trouble with ticks

Ticks are a natural hazard in Sydney, especially in gardens close to bushland, and they are not at all fussy about which animal they bite - they've been found on everything from pythons to possums to pet dogs. It is chilling to think that a tick which has bitten you, or your children, may have recently feasted on an animal and exchanged its fluids with you, but there's more at stake than being squeamish!

In addition to the risk of infection from various microbes ticks can carry, there is also the risk of developing allergy to proteins in tick saliva that enable it to feed. Recently, some people with tick-bite allergy also developed allergy to red meat. Finally, there's the toxin that the Australian paralysis tick (the main problem species in Sydney) produces after feeding for a few days. Most adults find ticks before this toxin takes effect, but small children and pets are at risk.

Our first reaction is to remove any tick we find quickly, but removing a tick the wrong way might cause you more problems. We might not even realise that an itch is a tick when it is a tiny larvae or small nymph (the early stages in the tick life cycle). There is much to learn, and a lot of misinformation, so we have gathered some of the most up-to-date references for you to check out before tick season starts again in spring.

Dr Sheryl Van Nunen
shows the correct and safe way to remove a tick in this video from the team at Tick Safe. Dr Van Nunen regularly speaks on ticks in Sydney - keep an eye out for her talks at Ku-ring-gai Council.

ABC Catalyst aired a very good story on tick bite allergy in February 2015. You can watch the show or read the transcript.

The Department of Health has a good fact sheet about tick biology, the problems they cause, and how to avoid them.

Please consider sharing this information with your family, friends, and colleagues.

Diana Watson, Education Team

  Have you seen this toad?

Asian common toad or black-spined toad, Duttaphrynus melanostictus. (Photo: Cat Dorey)

My job at Greenpeace is rarely dull, but it's not often I get a call for help before I make it to the office, and I've never had to deal with a stowaway before!

Last week, our logistics team were installing an interactive art piece for a Climate Change event in Pitt Street Mall. When they opened the crate they found a surprise inside. A toad had obviously climbed unnoticed into the crate, and then into the bubble wrap. This probably helped it maintain some moisture and warmth on its long flight from Singapore, and kept it hidden from customs officials!

I collected the little amphibian, and took him straight to my sister at the nearby Australian Museum, along with details of its illegal entry. Her colleagues would identify it and report it to the necessary authorities.

Back at the office, I realised from online searches that the critter was probably an Asian Common toad - the cute black finger nails, black spectacles, and freckled poison glands are pretty distinctive!

The next day I had confirmation and a very nice thank you note from the Department of Agriculture & Water Resources for capturing and reporting the beastie.

It might look cute, but it's one of the top high-risk invasive species, related to the cane toad. I was pretty sad that it had to be euthanized, but would have been much sadder had it escaped and spread disease to local frogs, or become yet another invasive pest that threatens our wildlife!

These toads are a big risk and often found in shipping containers and personal effects coming from all over Asia - please be aware of them! If you find one, catch it and report it. You find contact details and read more here.

Cat Dorey, Member & Newsletter Editor.

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