Dunedin’s Inner City Perennial Polyculture Garden – with guest Rory Harding

Welcome Auckland listeners! If you are checking out this website and you are from Auckland, you can now listen to Eco Living in Action  on your Auckland radio community radio station  Planet FM on 104.6FM, How fantastic is that!

Of course we have all kinds of fantastic and sustainable things happening here in Dunedin! The George Street Orchard is one of them. It is an inner city food producing garden designed and tended by gardener Rory Harding. Rory uses polyculture practices in which perennial and self-seeding annuals predominate. There are no monocultural rows of plants here! The garden is inspiring and its focus and design is pioneering. Eight years in the making, it is now a fluorishing productive and intergrated system. Looking at the photos on Rory’s website, I think this must be one of the best small space temperate polyculture gardens in New Zealand. It’s simply fantastic!

On this  show I spoke to Rory Harding to find out what produce he has gathered and enjoyed this Autumn, and what he is preserving as excess.  The city environment with its concrete and tarmac provides a warmer microclimate suitable for species that usually do not grow so far south. With this in mind, Rory is adventurous in his species choices! His garden is always changing with new and interesting species being grown.

Listen in to find out what Rory has been learning from his garden this year. This show was recorded on the 5th May 2017.

To listen to this programme about Inner City Perennial Polyculture Gardening please click on http://www.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=81f14f87-b93b-4ed2-b1bf-1487a7c00387

(If you want to listen to this show and the link is not working – please let me know! We endeavour to re-air our older popular shows on request.)

To listen to recent Eco Living in Action radio shows on the Otago Access Radio Website go to http://www.accessradio.org/ProgrammePage.aspx?PID=d6c5fa93-1644-4811-acef-71386373b70a

For more information –

This show was originally broadcast on the 25th May 2017 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is sponsored by Sustainable Dunedin City.

Rory Harding, creator of George Street Orchard inner city polyculture

Hardy Kiwi fruit. Photo taken from George Street Orchard website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rory Harding, creator of George Street Orchard inner city polyculture

 

For more photos go to https://georgestreetorchard.com/

 

Growing Organically with Polytunnels – with guest Hans Wieland, Co Leitrim

One of the more useful uses of petroleum is to make polytunnels! The advantages they brings to organic growing are substantial for those of us living in a temperate climate.

In March I spoke with Hans Wieland, Training and Marketing Manager at The Organic Centre in Co. Leitrim. Hans is both passionate and knowledgeable about polytunnels. In this show, Hans shares what we can do with polytunnels to enhance our organic growing capabilities, what design features we should look out for, and how to use them to best effect – from watering to soil amendment to aeration.

In this show recorded on 31st March 2017, I chat with Hans Wieland, Training and Marketing Manager, at The Organic Centre about  Growing Organically in a Polytunnel. Warning – you are likely to go out and buy a polytunnel if you listen to this show 🙂

 To listen to this programme about Growing Organically in a Polytunnel please click on http://www.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=565a562a-bb7c-47f4-ba26-4438b92a93f3.

(If you want to listen to this show and the link is not working – please let me know! We endeavour to re-air our older popular shows on request.)

To listen to recent Eco Living in Action radio shows on the Otago Access Radio Website go to http://www.accessradio.org/ProgrammePage.aspx?PID=d6c5fa93-1644-4811-acef-71386373b70a

For more information –

  • About The Organic Centre, go to www.organiccentre.ie, or ring the centre at 00353-(0)71-98-54338. The Organic Centre is located near the village of Rossinver in Co Leitrim. Note that the centre is open from 18th February to 12th November in 2017. Open 10am-5pm Tuesday through to Sunday.

This show was originally broadcast on the 18th May 2017 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is sponsored by Sustainable Dunedin City.

Hans Wieland by one of the many polytunnels at The Organic Centre, Co. Leitrim. This is one of their smaller ones. But still too big to fit in my garden unfortunately!

A greenhouse should have good ventilation. This geodesic dome with no vents high up and small single door is poor in design, says Hans

Another of the nine polytunnels at The Organic Centre. Each polytunnel offers a different focus and learning opportunity, as well as crop layout, for students and visitors to see.

 

Here – a small polytunnel inside a big polytunnel! Is this how new polytunnels are born? 🙂

This large polytunnel has a wide design, providing plenty of horizontal space without being too tall.

 

 

Biochar for small farm productivity – with guest Dennis Enright

Is biochar the answer to restoring our productive soils as well as mitigating climate change?

Dennis Enright is an organic market gardener, and the owner of TopVeges, an organic market garden business based in Mosgiel, close to the city of Dunedin in New Zealand. In addition to organics, Dennis also has a passion for making biochar and using it as a natural soil amendment for vegetable growing and carbon sequestration. Biochar is charcoal made by the burning or pyrolysis of carbon rich materials at high temperature in the absence of oxygen.

Due to his interest in Biochar, in the last few years Dennis’s life has taken a very interesting twist! He now spends a portion of each year in remote areas of Thailand advising and assisting local farmers to create and use biochar instead of traditional slash and burn methods. His work is showing very promising results in terms of crop productivity, as well as wider environmental benefits. As part of his work, Dennis works with local organisations – Greennet and Warm Heart Worldwide.

This show was originally recorded on the 10th April 2017. I talk to Dennis about his work making and using biochar, and scientifically testing it as a soil amendment for small farmers in Thailand.

To listen to this programme about Biochar for Small Farm Productivity please click on http://www.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=cbbd6220-9ef4-467a-a1d3-2ccf6acfde12. (If you want to listen to this show and the link is not working – please let me know! We endeavour to re-air our older popular shows on request.)

To listen to other Eco Living in Action radio shows on the Otago Access Radio Website go to http://www.accessradio.org/ProgrammePage.aspx?PID=d6c5fa93-1644-4811-acef-71386373b70a

This show was originally broadcast on the 27th April 2017 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is sponsored by Sustainable Dunedin City.

For more information –

 

 

Dennis assesses soil quality on the test and control sites that have biochar added/not added. To the right of the photo is ‘Vermis the Worm’. Dennis plans to use him as a voice for talking about soil, particularly for kids. Vermis has travelled to various parts of Thailand and other places!

A pit is a simple and effective way to make biochar.

Learn more at The Organic Centre – with guest Hans Wieland

Whether you are just beginning or an experienced organic grower, there is always more to learn about organic food production. The Organic Centre in Co. Leitrim in Ireland, was set up as charity with the purpose of providing training and information about organic growing and sustainable living. It started from small and humble beginnings in 1995. Now in 2017, it boasts demonstration gardens, numerous pylytunnels, a wetland disposal system, display composting systems, a large orchard and native woodland. The lovely central building with its grassroof, shop and eatery has won awards for its ecological design. Over 100 courses are on offer at The Organic Centre each year! 

In this show recorded on 31st March 2017, I chat with Hans Wieland, Training and Marketing Manager, at The Organic Centre about how the centre got started and what it has on offer for people wanting to learn more about organics and sustainable living.

 To listen to this programme about The Organic Centre please click on http://www.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=96f79f5d-1728-4079-8f5f-2cc6129e2e77. (If you want to listen to this show and the link is not working – please let me know! We endeavour to re-air our older popular shows on request.)

To listen to other Eco Living in Action radio shows on the Otago Access Radio Website go to http://www.accessradio.org/ProgrammePage.aspx?PID=d6c5fa93-1644-4811-acef-71386373b70a

For more information –

  • About The Organic Centre, go to www.organiccentre.ie, or ring the centre at 00353-(0)71-98-54338. The Organic Centre is located near the village of Rossinver in Co Leitrim. Note that the centre is open from 18th February to 12th November in 2017. Open 10am-5pm Tuesday through to Sunday.

This show was originally broadcast on the 20th April 2017 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is sponsored by Sustainable Dunedin City.

The Organic Centre in Co. Leitrim, Ireland. The main building has won an award for its ecological design.

 

The main building has an eatery, informational area and organic products including seeds.

Hans Wieland, Training and Marketing Manager, at The Organic Centre, Co Leitrim

Courses and workshops are taught at The Organic Centre.

Look out for the sign to The Organic Centre!

 

Wildlife Friendly Farming in Northern Ireland – with Roy Lyttle

In Northern Ireland, according to the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), around ¾ of the countryside is farmed. Unfortunately with the advent of modern monoculture farming practices – there has been a marked decline in wildlife. Natural diverse habitat loss, synthetic fertilizers, chemical sprays are all taking their toll.

Roy Lyttle along with his wife Sheila and their son Alexander are Northern Ireland’s biggest growers of leeks. They also produce scallions or spring onions and some other vegetables, and although a small amount of their land is certified organic, the majority of it is not. Roy and his family are on a mission to incorporate wildlife friendly practices into their conventional farming practices. They are doing such a good job that Roy received Northern Ireland’s Most Wildlife Friendly Farmer award for 2016 that is sponsored by the RSPB.

Conventional farms and farmers like Roy are really important because they offer a new model of the kinds of wildlife friendly actions that can be taken by conventional farmers producing large monocultural yields for supermarkets.

On this show recorded on the 29th of December 2016 I talked to farmer Roy Lyttle about his passion for nature, and what his family are doing as Northern Ireland’s biggest producer of leeks to help wildlife return to their patch of the countryside.

To listen to this programme about Northern Ireland’s Most Wildlife Friendly Farmer please click on http://www.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=1c9aeaf2-7e69-4dc2-b307-a8e85ca2c354

To listen to other Eco Living in Action radio shows on the Otago Access Radio Website go to http://www.accessradio.org/ProgrammePage.aspx?PID=d6c5fa93-1644-4811-acef-71386373b70a

For more information –

This show was originally broadcast on the 12th January 2017 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is sponsored by Sustainable Dunedin City.

Roy Lyttle, Wildlife Friendly Farmer of the Year (2016) for Northern Ireland, with his son Alexander (left) and wife Sheila.

Roy Lyttle, RSPB’s Wildlife Friendly Farmer of the Year (2016) for Northern Ireland, with his son Alexander (left) and wife Sheila.

Wide grassed borders to fields allow insects to survive as well as providing a border for vehicles that helps to keep the roads clean.

Wide grassed borders to fields allow insects and birds to live alongside conventionally farmed land. The border is also for vehicles and helps to keep the roads clean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roy by his filed that he has set aside for wild native birds such as declining linnets and skylarks. A mixture of grasses has been grown with linseed predominating.

Roy by his field that he has set aside for wild native birds such as declining linnets and skylarks. A mixture of grasses has been grown with linseed predominating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hedges bordering Roy's fiendly are allowed to grow for 4-5 years before cutting back. This helps provide habitat for breeding birds.

Hedges bordering Roy’s fields are allowed to grow for 4-5 years before cutting back. This helps provide habitat for breeding birds.

 

Linnets on the Ard's Peninsula, Northern Ireland

Linnets on the Ard’s Peninsula, Northern Ireland

 

Growing Buckwheat as a Cover Crop – with John McCormick

John McCormick, owner of Helen’s Bay Organic Gardens is based in Co.Down in Northern Ireland. I have had John on the show twice before in 2012 to talk about organics, market gardening and his community box scheme (see links below). And now I am back for a third radio show. I’m beginning to suspect that John McCormick himself is one of Northern Ireland’s best organic products!

Like most gardeners I am keen to know the secrets of other organic gardeners’ fantastic vegetable yields in conditions similar to what we have in Dunedin. Northern Ireland has a similar temperate climate to Dunedin, plus heavy clay soils are common here – and of course it’s rather wet! John will no doubt have many tips for growing great vegetables but the thing I am here to talk to him about today is his use of buckwheat which plays an integral part in the health of his soil and also the management of his plantings.

Buckwheat is not a wheat, it is not even a grass. However its seeds are rich in nutrients and carbohydrates, and in times past the seeds when ground were used for flour as a staple.

But this is not what John uses his buckwheat for. Like a number of organic gardeners in Dunedin, John uses buckwheat as a very beneficial and successful cover crop.  He has been growing it for years and is passionate about its benefits to his organic market garden practice.

On the 15th September 2016, I spoke with John McCormick, organic market gardener, about growing and using buckwheat as a cover crop.

To listen to this programme about Growing and Using Buckwheat please click on http://www.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=3069242c-c20f-44dc-afd8-a358b48a866d

To listen to other Eco Living in Action radio shows on the Otago Access Radio Website go to http://www.accessradio.org/ProgrammePage.aspx?PID=d6c5fa93-1644-4811-acef-71386373b70a

For more information –

This show was originally broadcast on the 29th September 2016 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is sponsored by Sustainable Dunedin City.

John McCormick, owner and manager of Helen's Bay Organics

John McCormick, owner and manager of Helen’s Bay Organic Gardens

 

Silverbeet at helen's Bay Organics

Silverbeet growing at Helen’s Bay Organic Gardens

 

Buckwheatr after cutting - late summer

Buckwheat after cutting – late summer

 

Rooftop Vegetable Garden – with Caitlin Bragg

During my stay with my sister in Ontario, I was a frequent visitor of Trent University. Here there is a large vegetable garden with a difference. It is on the rooftop of the environmental science building! The garden was part of the initial building design, it can support 18 inches of saturated soil, there is irrigation and drainage, and a very necessary impermeable membrane beneath the soil to protect the building. It, and another ground based plot, provide food for The Seasoned Spoon – an on-site cafeteria for the students of the university. How did this garden come about? What can they produce? How do they keep their vegetables happy?

On the 1st June I spoke with Caitlin Bragg who is Coordinator Of Trent Vegetable Gardens at Trent University in Ontario, Canada.

To listen to this programme about Trent Rooftop Vegetable Garden please click on http://www.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=3069242c-c20f-44dc-afd8-a358b48a866d. (PS – If this link is not working it may be because it is an older show. Let me know! We will re-air popular shows.)

To listen to other Eco Living in Action radio shows on the Otago Access Radio Website go to http://www.accessradio.org/ProgrammePage.aspx?PID=d6c5fa93-1644-4811-acef-71386373b70a

For more information –

This show was originally broadcast on the 16th June 2016 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is sponsored by Sustainable Dunedin City.

Caitlin Bragg weeding in the garlic patch on the Trent Rooftop Vegetable Garden

Caitlin Bragg weeding in the garlic patch on the Trent Rooftop Vegetable Garden

Poster to encourage volunteers to help out on the Trent Rooftop Vegetable Garden

Poster to encourage volunteers to help out on the Trent Rooftop Vegetable Garden

 

 

 

View of the rooftop garden in early June before the main planting has begun

View of the rooftop garden in early June before the main planting has begun

 

 

The garlic

The garlic

 

 

 

Compost to enrich the beds

Compost to enrich the beds

 

Straw is used as mulch to retain moisture and prevent soil erosion from the wind

Straw is used as mulch to retain moisture and prevent soil erosion from the wind

 

 

Trees and buildings act as buffers to reduce wind on the rooftop garden

Trees and buildings act as buffers to reduce wind on the rooftop garden