• #31 We have exciting news

    9 OCT. 2023 · This is it!! The last episode.. Booooooo, BUT, where there is some exiting news... YAYAYAYA. Find out what is happening and how to keep listening to informative, fun and supercharged discussions and interviews. Appologies in advance for the audio quality. We had some tech challenges and we just ran with it. That's just life sometimes.
    14m 51s
  • #30 Big Picture Garden Planning

    19 DIC. 2022 · This is the last episode for 2022.. I feel like this year I have achieved so much but haven’t even scratch the sides at the same time… anyone else feel the same? This week I am working on my goals for 2023. We have some big plans for SoH Farmlet including starting a fortnightly food swap where it’s a bring what you can take what you need no money food swap. A produce swap where people can come and have a cuppa, cake, conversation and go home with a stash of fresh goodies. Self sufficiency for me isn’t about being a solo crusader, it’s about doing what you can with what you have. This means learning from others be it books, YouTube, courses, podcasts or just having a chat to someone, it’s observing, testing and measuring, failing forward over and over and over until you work it out, and it’s sharing what you have and what you know with others. I have to admit that I’m not usually one to get overly involved in community groups as I don’t have the mental bandwidth to deal with the drama that can sometimes come with them. But, one of my goals in 2023 is to connect with more likeminded people to learn from them, add value where I can and have more fun. I have in the last few weeks joined my local community garden and am looking forward to getting involved and meeting other garden nerds. I am actually really excited which I’ve surprised myself with. For the last ep. of the year I thought I would share with you my process for big picture planning my garden. I used to try and plan from big picture all way way down to the small details of each garden bed, each fruit tree which ended up with me either getting stressed that I can’t follow it because it’s too rigid or throwing it out all together and going way off track. I now use a set of basic principles to work out what I can achieve. This allows me the flexibility I need to change for unplanned events like crazy weather or if I need to be away from the garden for a while or purely if change my mind, which will absolutely happen. It gives me a framework to work within. I have found so far this has been pretty effective in preventing me going off on garden tangents like buying a heap of plants on a whim and not having a plan for them. I have killed so many plants that have languished in pots for way too long waiting for me to plant them out. And I admit, I still have some.. I did say it’s pretty effective, not fool proof. The principles I use are broken into 2 Tiers Tier 1 How much time do I REALLY have to dedicate to my garden. What resources do I have or need. Ie Help, cash, seeds/plants, items I can reuse/upcycle, swap Growing vs infrastructure - what can I get growing and what needs more work Tier 2 What do I like and want to eat What do I know grows well What will improve my soil By applying these I can break down each section of the garden into what need attention and then plan for when I can give it the attention it needs. For example I am still working on building fenced garden beds that stop rabbits from pillaging and also allow the chickens to be directed over beds at the end of the season. I have several of these yet to build but there is no way I can do them all in one go. I don’t have the time, budget or endurance. But I know I can build 1 in 1 day. I Also know that I need make compost for each bed and I know I can build a hot compost in one day that will be ready in about 3-4 weeks. These garden beds are all no dig so I need to laying paper or cardboard down, cover it in soil and compost and add mulch on the walk ways. I know that doing this part is achievable over a weekend. If I give myself 4-6 weeks to build a single bed ready to plant, I can have them all finished by the end of the year and if I factor that my amazing husband will most definitely help me with these then we can have them finished sooner. But this isn’t our only garden project. I still have maintenance of the orchard, food forrest and planting annuals in prepared beds. I break these down using the same principles. For example one of our annual beds needs some soil love. I can add a green manure crop now and then let the chickens trample it down over autumn and winter ready for spring. Minimal effort and time on my part, massive boost for the soil plus extra forage for the chickens. In another bed I recently planted eggplant seedlings and added generous amount of lettuce, rocket, corn salad and a mix of flower seeds. The leafy greens are planted thick to act as a living mulch and the eggplants will shade some out so I can pick leaves. Flowers will attract beneficial bugs, look pretty and I can pick a few here and there for my vase. The orchard needs the grass to be maintained. I can knock this down over the a few afternoons each month. I can then continue planting fruit tree guilds to help manage the grass overgrowing into the fruit trees, increase diversity, boost soil health, create habitat and about 1000 other benefits. I can get one done a month. With the amount of fruit trees we have this will take me the next 2 years to finish but I am a-ok with this. Progress is a good thing. I can commit to planting at least 1 perennial a month in the food forrest and start to grow more living mulch to assist with grass suppression. And with my time focused on infrastructure projects I have decided that I am probably not going to grow my own seedlings and will either plant seeds direct or source seedlings elsewhere. From all of this I know that each month I need at least 2 weekends and a few afternoons to achieve my goals and now I can plan this into my diary. Once I know what the big picture looks like I can then drill down further like pruning and crop rotation planning if I need to. Mind you, the more I learn about the life of soil the less I worry about crop rotation but that is for another day. I know this type of planning has helped me to stay connected to my garden and continue to enjoy all the tasks that need doing. When things get overwhelming we naturally want to avoid them and I know I have been in overwhelm on a few of occasions, especally over the last few years. But it’s using smart strategies that work for each of us that is key. If you have some gardening goals that you aren’t sure how to tackle take some time before the year is finished to apply these principles to work out what you can, do with what you have. I want to say a big fat thank you for listing to the podcast and your support. I massively appreciate your patience with the adds this season too. This year decided to monitize the podcast to help pay for the costs of production. I find ads in podcasts annoying but I also know that’s how many of us keep the pod lights on. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart. Have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones. I’ll be taking a short break and plan to be back in February 2023. Happy gardening.
    17m 45s
  • #29 5 Ways Guaranteed to Improve your Soil Health

    5 DIC. 2022 · Ps… I got quite excited recording this episode and there’s a lot of ‘you knows’ and ‘ums’ and ‘sooo’ please do your best to ignore those,🙏 It's the 5th Dec so that means ‘ Happy World Soil Day!! Today is the day you get a pass to totally nerd out on your friends and talk all day about soil. Fun facts to share around with your non gardening friends. There is more living organisms in a tablespoon of healthy soil that there are humans on earth. The largest living organisms isn't a whale it’s a fungus that is found in Oregon USA and it’s the size of 1665 football fields, is estimated to be between 200-800 years old and is mostly made of carbon. Another fact is that is not so fun is that it is estimated that the world topsoil will be depleted within the next 60 years and some even say it's as little as 30 years. That shit is scary. So this week I was planning to do a super short episode because I spend the weekend doing a plant based bush survival course where for 2 whole days we learnt about edible wild plant, bush medicine, survival tactics, tracking, natural fibre rope making, fire starting and lots more. My body is battered and bruised but I am feeling a hugely renewed sense of connection to the earth. But because it’s World Soil Day I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share a few things that can help you improve your soil. I am by no means a soil expert. I am learning from others and am still making a bunch of mistakes and learning from these as I go. I can share though that early next year we will have a really cool guest on to share her knowledge about soil and compost. This lady knows her shit… especially in compost. So make sure your episode notifications are on or you check in every few weeks so you don’t miss it. But for today you and I are going to chat about 5 ways you can support the soil web in your own patch by looking at 5 ways guaranteed to help you improve your solid health. Even if you just did one of these things you will see improvements. First one is Increase organic matter. Organic matter is anything that was once upon a time living or has come from a living thing. Another way to say it is anything that contains carbon compounds that were formed by living organisms. Parts of or whole plants, grass clippings, manures, dead bodies.. I’m not suggesting to bury someone in your backyard but the beloved pet you buried under the tree added to the organic matter. Feathers, wool, fur, hair, bones, kelp, paper, algae, fungi, all of these break down and add to the organic matter. Compost is a great way to decompose these so that the nutrients can become plant available and the compost adds overall structure to the soil allowing for moisture retention and oxygen to reach roots. It also helps maintain a stable PH level. Chop and drop is a great way to add organic matter right at the source. When you plants are spent don’t pull them out, instead chop them off at or slightly below ground level and chop them up into smaller bits and leave them to break down. You can also add mulch, leaves and aged manures to your garden directly. Depending on what manure you use you may need to go easy on it to keep a good balance. Second way is to stop using pesticides and herbicides. Yep. STOP. I know it’s disheartening when your hard work is getting eaten by bugs or it seems like you are forever battling weeds but I 1000% promise you if you are using pesticides and herbicides you are doing way more harm than good. Keep the bugs at bay through companion planting. Plant things that attract beneficial insects that eat the buggers that are attacking your plants. Plant other things that will either attract the pest and use these as sacrificial plants or plant deterrents. To give you an example, if you struggle with aphids (who doesn’t from time to time) then plant things that attract bugs that love to snack on aphids or plant things that aphids love to each away from your prized patch. Nasturtium and a range of other plants can act as an attractant drawing them away. This year my dandelions were covered in aphids and ladybugs were loving it. Yet there were zero on any other plants even the ones growing only 30 cms away. The episode on companion planting will give you a few more ideas too. You can also remove bugs by hand. Laborious but better than chemicals. Blasting them with water can be quite satisfying too. Remove weeds by hand. Grab a weeding tool that is suitable for your garden and weed types that will cause the least amount of disturbance. Or chop them off and use them for compost or weed tea. I would only chop and drop weeds without seeds otherwise you have just effectively planted the weed you are trying to remove. I learnt this the hard way. Another great way to suppress weeds is to plant green manure crops during garden downtime. This has loads of benefits like minimising erosion of bare soil from wind or rain, adding nutrients back into the soil through nitrogen fixing and chopping and dropping before seeds form. Some green manure crops can act as a bio-fumigant to manage soil borne nasties. planting mustard greens after or before tomatoes can help control nematodes and white mould in lettuce and other plants. Third thing you can do to improve your soil health is to minimise soil disturbance. You have no doubt heard me talk about no dig gardening which is great but the fact of intensive backyard gardening is that we inevitably are going to disturb the soil. Minimal disturbance is just that. Minimal. We want to have the least amount of negative impact on the soilweb. Everything under our feet is connected by billions of living superhighways. When these are interrupted, that is when plants struggle to uptake nutrients, the soil can’t maintain a good balance of moisture retention and oxygen flow. This is a stupidly simplistic explanation but you get my drift. If you have to dig a hole to plant a tree or bury something then do so with the least amount of damage. When dealing with hard compacted earth use a fork to open and loosen it without turning the earth over. This will still do some damage but it won’t annihilate it completely and on the plus side you are then getting air and water down there and can start to get some green manure in the ground to start the improving process. While we are talking about compaction keep a rule of ‘no toes on the rows’ Don’t walk on the active growing parts of your gardens. This significantly helps to reduce compaction. If you do need to walk on them, using stepping stones or planks of timber can help to spread the load. Fourth is to minimise synthetic fertilisers. I am not an anti-synthetic fertiliser campaigner but I feel that there is little education for the average backyard gardener about the impact of dumping synthetic fertiliser on your garden over and over and over again. I would caution that synthetic fertilisers should not be relied upon nor used systematically. Quick explanation of the difference. Synthetic or inorganic means synthesised or made using chemicals and either man made or naturally occuring minerals. Organic as we mentioned before is anything that is made from a once living thing and has loads more benefits than just fertiliser. Check out episode 25 for the what and when of fertilisers. Synthetic fertilisers can kill soil micro organisms which the plants rely upon to help with nutrient uptake. Just a bit of an irony. It can also cause reactions within the soil that cause significant depletion of naturally occurring nutrients and it disrupts the plants ability to adequately regulate the nutrient cycling process. I have used synthetic fertilisers in the past but haven’t done for quite some time. It’s worth doing your own garden experiments looking at the short term and long term responses to synthetic vs organic fertilisers to see for yourself. Another great place to go and learn more about this is soilfoodweb.com. Dr Elaine Ingham has loads of information for free that is simple to understand for any gardener. And the fifth way to love your soil is to ensure plant diversity and lots of it. Not all plants are created equal and many help each other under the soil just as much as above. Just like humans we need diversity in our communities to enrich our minds and challenge us to grow stronger and your plants are the same. Deep rooted plants access a different set of nutrients and can distribute these through a number of ways. I did a whole episode just on Comfery for this very reason. Nothing grows in isolation or monocrops in nature. Forests grow very well all crammed in together, dropping leaves everywhere, falling over and rotting into the ground and bringing in animals to spread seeds, poop and die all adding to the life of soil. I have mentioned dying a bit this episode but it’s a part of life. Everything that is living will die one day. My wish is to be composted but I don’t think that option has been permitted in Australia yet. Hopefully it will be by that time. The more I learn about soil the more I realise I don’t know. It’s an endless subject that is utterly fascinating for so many reasons and it’s the number 1 thing that will give you big, bumper crops that are highly nutritious if you look after it. Pests, challenging weather and other factors will come and go but soil health is a long game and is key to ensuring our great grand kids have access to nutritious food and a healthy planet. I will be back for one last episode for 2022 on the 19th Dec.
    23m 19s
  • #28 Responsible Gardening

    21 NOV. 2022 · As gardeners it is our responsibility to understand what we grow may have an impact on more than just our little patch. Some plants have a habit of escaping into neighbouring ecosystems causing all manner of problems. None of us go out and plant something we know to be invasive in our area but our good intentions aren’t going to be good enough to stop a willey plant from taking hold somewhere we don’t want it. Why is it an issue if a plant escapes? this episode we discuss why it's important to keep our plants in check and what to do if they start to escape... Shout out to @copper_oak_ cottage_hideaway. ❤️ Thanks for the kind message. Mentioned sites growmeinstead.com.au/ https://www.gardeningresponsibly.org.au/
    21m 46s
  • #27 Comfrey Power

    7 NOV. 2022 · If you are a Permie or someone who has practised holistic gardening then it’s likely in this episode I’ll be preaching to the converted. That’s because comfrey is a gardener's magic pixie dust that has been used for aeons. I can’t believe I totally left this amazing herb out of the last episode when we were talking about fertilisers. That’s what middle aged female brain fog looks like. Anyhoo that's a different podcast… Now let’s chat about comfrey. So what is it? Comfrey is a herbaceous shrub that's native to Europe and Asia but now grows in most parts of the world. It produces large dark green leaves that are hairy and soft. The stems have soft spikes that are similar to borage. In fact comfrey and borage care cousins. It produces little purple, pink and or white flowers during late spring into summer. There are 2 types of comfrey referred to as Russian or Bocking 14 comfrey and True or common comfrey. True or common comfrey produces white flowers and produces seeds which means it can be spread. In some areas this is a benefit but in other areas it can become an invasive weed. Russian or Bocking 14 comfrey is sterile and won’t self seed. It’s easily propagated so this is the variety I grow and recommend to anyone. More about propagation soon. Comfrey is super resilient in most gardens. It prefers protection from hot afternoon summer sun and prefers free draining soil but will grow in just about anywhere. Ours is thriving in super heavy clay soil that has been waterlogged for the last 6 months and it’s as happy as a pig in mud. I threw about 10 starters in the ground in 2019 before the heat wave that saw the east coast of Australia was on fire, temperatures reached over 40deg c + (104f) many days and the whole place was like a tinderbox. Everything on our property was brown and crunchy. We didn’t water anything in an effort to save what little precious water we had. I think I threw a few buckets of water from the shower on them. That was it. We had a 50% success rate and that was 50% more than I was expecting. So you can see that they can take a beating and still find a way to thrive. Why is it a must in every garden ? Comfrey has super roots. They can penetrate down to 2 metres or more in ideal conditions. The roots essentially mine macro and micro nutrients that other plants can’t get to. They then store these delicious nutrients throughout the plant with a good portion being stored in the shrubby leaf mass. It’s often referred to as a dynamic accumulator for this reason. This means when we use comfrey in the garden the nutrients are returned to the soil but are now available to the shallow rooted plants. The super roots can also help to break up compacted earth and their leaves add organic matter back into the soil. The flowers provide nectar and pollen for many species. The thick growth provides habitat for small insects and it attracts some of my favourite pest management buddies. Lacewings lay eggs on comfrey leaves and parasitoid wasps and spiders are often seen around or on comfrey. Another benefit is the dense nature of the plant. Because it grows so thick and clumps together it often crowds out anything else in it’s way which is awesome if you have a weed or grass invasion of the unwanted kind. Be aware of how comfrey may impact on its neighbours before planting. Before we get into the usage side of things we need to know how to propagate our comfrey. Listen very closely as it’s a bit complex… You dig up a whole or partial plant, you take cuttings from the root about 5cm long and lay them horizontally in a prepared garden site or in a pot. Keep it moist until several leaves appear. So you see… super complicated. Now we have comfrey growing. What and how do you use it? There are lots of ways to use this superwoman of a plant. Put it in your compost as an activator. The nutrients will break down and give your compost, hot or cold, a kicker. Chop and drop. It can be totally cut it back up to 3 times a year in fact you can mow the stuff and it will come back. Or you can chop as much as needed. Drop the leaves on the garden to break down, adding organic matter and releasing those nutrients into the top soil. Use it as a living mulch around trees or garden edges. Placed at the bottom of planting holes either in pots or in the garden. The leaves will break down and feed the plants as they establish. Chickens love it. Add a little bit to their breakfast. You will see yellow yolks like sunflowers. It can be used as a treat feed for other animals too but using it sparingly and do research before feeding. Make tea. Not for you but for your garden. Fill a bucket, bin or bath with as much comfrey as you can fit. Ideally chop up the leaves to speed up the process and cover it with water and cover it with a lid. And for the love of all things…. Cover it very well. I will warn you. This stuff stinks. The more it ferments the stinker it gets. Like any good tea it needs to steep. Let sit for at least a week but if you want a nice strong tea aim for 3-6 weeks. If you leave it for a full 6 weeks it will be a sludge. That's a good thing. It means all those nutrients are now in your tea. Strain the tea using a cloth or fine strainer. It needs to be diluted but the ratio will depend on how concentrated your tea is. There is no absolute rule so you can’t go too far wrong. If you left it 6 weeks then aim for a 1:9-10 ratio, if you left for a week then a 1:2 would be fine. 3 weeks would be about 1:4 ratio. Adjust accordingly. These are guides only. If you leave it for several months it will still be usable. You can use it as a foliar spray using a pump spray bottle or add it directly to soil via a watering can. If you have a hose end sprayer bottle you can use that but you need to make sure your tea is super strong and has been strained through a very fine cloth to prevent any blockages. Adjust the flow to suit your tea. I am planning on pimping my compost tea process so I can have continuous batches brewing. I am going to use 2 60litre outdoor garbage bins. The bottom bin will have a tap and the top bin that will stack inside the other will have holes along the bottom, a layer of small gauge wire and a few layers of heavy duty fly screen. This way I can harvest the tea without having to open the bins. Once it’s done I will clean it out and start over. The goal will be to have 3 of these at various stages so I can have ready tea every 2 weeks if I need it. I will have to up my comfrey game, to make sure I have enough to harvest on a consistent basis. It can also be made into a salve or infused oil for healing. I haven’t used it like this so I can’t personally attest to its benefits but there is a lot of interesting information out there about the medicinal properties of comfrey. In the past it has been consumed as a vegetable and herbal tea however we now know that it is somewhat toxic to humans and in larger doses to livestock. It has potential carcinogenic properties. So don’t go eating it and if you are going to explore herbal medicines be sure to do a butt load of research as there are whispers that these toxic effects can also be through dermal absorption of high concentrated doses. Again do your own thorough research. Once you're done throw any spent leaves and sludge into your compost or bury them in your garden. So now you can see why comfrey is the superwoman of the garden world. I knew the benefits of comfrey for a long time but I didn’t really know for myself until I started using it.
    18m 22s
  • #26 5 Awesome Edibles That Anyone Can Grow

    25 OCT. 2022 · In today's episode I'm sharing with you the top 5 edibles that I think are a must in every garden and anyone can grow. This episode is for you if you are a beginner gardener just starting out on your edible growing journey. If you aren’t sure what is good to grow and are procrastinating on getting started I have you covered. And, if you are a green thumb who has been growing your fave for years, take this as an opportunity to add something new to the mix or share your top 5 with us. There are sooo many varieties of vegetables, fruits and all manner of edible plants out there. We can't grow them all, but not for lack of trying by some of us. One thing to always remember when choosing what to grow is what you will eat. No point growing something that you and your family or friends won’t eat unless you have plans to swap or sell your produce. Your precious efforts need to be rewarded with something yummy that you look forward to harvesting and eating. There is something so soulful about picking fresh produce you have grown and tucking into it. Organic, nutritious and so damn tasty. https://www.facebook.com/sohfarmlet/ https://www.instagram.com/sohfarmlet/
    28m 32s
  • #25 The What and When of Fertilisers

    10 OCT. 2022 · Knowing what needs to be fed, when and with what can be overwhelming. There are so many options and even more opinions on what is the best way to go. I want to help you make sense of what is needed, why and when and keep it simple.
    17m 27s
  • #24 No Dig Garden Beds

    26 SEP. 2022 · No dig gardening is better for you, better for the soil and better for your veggies. It just makes sense. Dig the way we kicked off season 2? Find us on Facebook and Instagram @sohfarmlet
    28m 2s
  • #23 Demystifying Permaculture Principles

    20 SEP. 2022 · When I first heard the word permaculture & heard that there were 12 principles it conjured up all sorts of complicated concepts that my new gardening brain just couldn’t fathom. I was flat out working out how to keep a few pots of herb alive let alone applying 12 principles to my gardening. I mean, come on!! Who has time for that? What I came to realise is that we all do. Permaculture is something we can all use to help guide our food growing journey and more. I want to demystify permaculture for the newbie gardener a little but. Take out some of the unfamiliar language that can sometimes cause us to think what the duck does that even mean.
    31m 9s
  • #22 Preserving End of Season Harvests

    20 SEP. 2022 · Here in the Hunter Valley Winter is definitely on it’s way. Our nights are getting down to under 10 deg c and even though the days are stunning, there is a definite chill. This means that many of our warm loving plants have packed it up for the season. The cucumber vine died back almost overnight even though we hadn’t had a frost. The cherry tomatoes plants are covered in green tomatoes but they are starting to get attacked by bugs and the basil is all but done. On the plus side our eggplants and zucchinis are still going strong and of all things, the pumpkins have decided to give a last hoorah putting on some last minute growth and baby pumpkins too. I will let them do their thing until we have a frost due then I will pick them like a woman possessed the day before. This is totally reliant of course, on me getting my but into the garden in time. But that is part of the fun of gardening.
    25m 5s

Self-Sufficiency Made Simple podcast is here to share practical tips and hacks helping you overcome confusion about how to grow your own yummy food, keep healthy and happy chickens and...

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Self-Sufficiency Made Simple podcast is here to share practical tips and hacks helping you overcome confusion about how to grow your own yummy food, keep healthy and happy chickens and even venture into the world of bees. And, do it all in your own backyard. Your host Jo Flintham from SoH Farmlet is all about making things simple, fun and easy in the garden. With many years of food growing experience and lessons, Jo shares how to start where you are with what you have to create your own self-sufficient source of food in any space and enjoy an endless source of homegrown goodness.
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