When I bought this house and move to this remote area, the first thing I do is rip off the carpet and leave the unpainted wooden floor bare and nice. I just have to sweep it to keep it clean and there is no dust mites hidden in carpet and there is no need to change shoes on and off to keep the floor clean --- it is just a stupid waste of effective living time.
I cut down the big trees that its branches threaten the house roof and power line and its roots crack the concrete floors of sheds and garage. Burned them to ash and charcoal to fertilise and modify the soil in the garden. I plant some productive fruit trees such as fig, mulberry, loquat and apricot that suit the Mediterranean style weather --- hot and dry long summer and occasional rains in mild winter. And also I bought some native fruit trees such as finger lime and some others I cannot remember their strange names that perfectly adapted to this harsh environment. The blue berry is a failure here; it wouldn’t grow much in spite of my great effort in putting in fertilisers and soil modifiers such as trace elements and soil acidifier. Fertilisers and soil modifiers cost a couple of hundred dollars a year but I think this cost will be reduced year by year when the soil is modified. I used too much plant ash that make the soil overly alkalinic.
Fertilisers are still a big cost on this barren land in spite of my effort to use organic waste in the kitchen and toilet: I don’t use the flushing toilet but return to the fundamentals --- use a stainless steel container for toileting and bury the fresh faeces daily near the plants to fertilise them. That will activate the microbes in the soil and modify the soil conditions for the long term benefit. You have to bury it otherwise the flies population will explode. I also bypassed the drainage to lead the grey water with flexible hose to irrigate the garden. There is no black water produced in my house so far but if it is produced that can be converted into gas for fuel and fertiliser for garden by natural gas fermenter system. It has two poly tanks, when one is filing the other is maturing.
I intentionally selective hoe out the aggressive and nasty weeds (that provide me with necessary daily physical exercise) but leave the edible species to flourish (such as 1. Shepherd’s purse (capsella bursa-pastoris), this is the most tasteful and most ancient wild vegetable in the world that you can find it in most countries in the world. 2. Wild small green leaf amaranths, this is the very valued wild vegetable in Asian market but I did not find it in the environment in Australia. So I ordered it online and breed them out here. It copes very well here and thrives in this hot and dry weather. It also tastes very good. 3. Chenopodium album, Fat Hen. 4. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), eat raw; just a small handful will be enough. Good for eyes and liver. 5. Sonchus (Sowthisle, Milk thistle), this is the most tasty native wild vegetable --- better than most vegetables in the supermarket. Can eat raw or cooked. 6. Also there are some other wild edible vegetables such as Lactuca serriola (Prickly lettuce, Wild lettuce, Compass plant), Wild Mallow Plant, etc. (refer to GREEN LIFE TALK 3 in Seeking Answers 11th edition). I also grow zucchini, sweet potato, potato, lettuce (berg lettuce, cos lettuce and Chinese lettuce), garlic chive, rocket, coriander, spring onion, shungiku (chopsuey greens), Cape gooseberry… The key is to treat them as weeds and spread their seeds all scattered around and mixed, not too much watering and fertiliser in order them don’t grow overly rampant and concentrated. Then there will be no insect problems at all. If you don’t disturb it, there is a natural balance in local ecosystem that keeps the efficiency in biomass production. Normal insects’ activities are necessary for the plants and they check each other. A species of small ants are the top predators among the insects here. Natural balance is the perfect order. There is no need at all to struggle with the nature --- follow the natural order. No struggling with nature and keeps nature in natural order, the result is you get fresh fruits and vegetables to eat all year round and very relaxed. And the best part of it --- no insecticide and herbicide at all.
Toilet paper is a big drain on forest wood but the use of paper to wipe your bottom doesn’t even hygiene. It leaves a thin layer of faeces there. Use a little bit of running water can clean your bottom in perfect hygiene. The water goes to garden anyway.
At first, I use electrical insect killer to attract and kill insects in the garden. But later I found it is not necessary: don’t plant your vegetable in an intensive way, and not water them too much, leave them there as natural as possible, there will be no insect problems. Normal insect activities are necessary for the plants. Even the lizards eating some flowers are actually a good practice for productivity of the fruiting process --- you just need a few fruits for each plant to produce the optimal result. And you got less trouble with them council guys --- they don’t like rampant vegetation in your garden. They don’t talk; they just leave the terrible thing in your letter box --- council notice.
The first year I found the lizards eating flowers, I put them into a bucket and carry them 10 kms away to exile them. The old guy, when I throw it to the ground, it keeps calm and dignified manner. First, have a brief look at the new environment. Then It turn it head to me, looked at me the last time. And then turn back its head and slowly walked away. I can never forget that look. It’s heartbroken moment. It let me realise human are so selfish and so cruel --- it is not the lizard is cold, it is human. And also we are stupid --- I only realised that later, through the true relations among the plant, lizard, insect, and myself. Though the young lizards are just angry and agitated, they just turn their head towards me and open their mouth prepare for a fight. That actually makes me feel less guilty. It is not true that animals are without feelings, not even true to the cold blooded animals. And they all have different personalities and characters.
I get along with the grazers quite well --- the rabbits, kangaroos, they concentrate on the cellulous narrow leaf grass while I concentrated on the broad leaf vegetables. We all take what we need in a true mutual benefiting manner: they mow down the grass to the height them council guys demand while I have my vegetables all year around. I rarely have the need to use my mower; I usually just use my hoes. They have different designs for different purposes. I use the light weight one that is designed for remove / cut down grass most. There is some overlap on the local wild vegetables we all like, but I am reasonable enough to recognise that: that is their food, I am happy to take what they left for me. The wild animals behave in a conscious, self-restrained way, though I never drive them away. If I find some reckless damage in the garden, I know neighbour’s goats escaped.
Occasionally, the local fox sneaks into the garden for an uninvited visit. It comes for the birds and rabbits. When I unexpectedly meet it in the garden with a prey in its mouth, it just takes its dignified strides to exit the garden through the gate, not jump over the fence. I don’t interfere, its natural order in natural system by natural process. Human interference will cause disorder effects. One day the fox approaching to greet me, but my action of turning the hay with a hay fork were mistaken by it as an unfriendly gesture, it turned its back and go away and never to return. How stupid I am! See a local VIP friend (it is the top of the local food chain and the most intelligent guy) coming I should stop working and properly greeting it, but I didn’t. It’s my fault for losing a friend. I hurt its feelings.
Stupid as I am, I am alone in that area.