Permaculture in Action

Monday, June 27, 2011

Soil Degradation

Following on from my last post about soil degradation, I would like to offer some positiveness.
So what do we do here at Purple Pear?  One of Mark's sayings is "What ever the problem with the soil, the answer is, add organic matter."

Our farm is located on quite marginal land. It is very heavy clay with very poor drainage which gives us an acidic soil. We are continually adding organic matter, using paddock slashings, spoilt hay, weeds thrown in with the hens, and of course compost.

We have compost heaps scattered throughout the garden. You can't have too many compost heaps!
When we started the topsoil here was about 3cm. By slashing and applying biodynamic( BD) preparations we have managed to significantly improve the pasture.

The paths were dug out and the soil thrown onto the bed. Then manure was added.

In the mandala garden we raised the beds by digging out the paths and throwing that soil onto the beds. We added dry pulverised cow pats, BD preps, green manure crops, and then put the chooks on, and added paddock slashings. Over the past 5 years the soil has become  beautiful, rich and friable.
Green manure.

Mulch is added in with the chooks and when they are moved on the seedlings are planted

 Minerals are added in the form of rock dust which is a component of our compost, and is also a part of our homemade potting mix. So each time we plant a seedling a little bit of extra rockdust minerals is added.
It is important to us that we are able to show that it is possible to grow food successfully even on such marginal land as ours.


  1. It has taken me almost 15 years to get my soil where it needs to be. I still have about 10 acres that need work, but slowing it's gettig there. Love what your doing on your side of the world. Have a great Monday.

  2. Hi Kate,
    Where do you get your rock mineral dust from?


  3. I'm going to have the job of building up sand to make it gorgeously luscious like your soil. Starting out with old sheep poo and lucerne hay. will work up to other stuff as time goes on.

  4. Hi Mel, the rock dust we use is Martins Creek crushed basalt that we get from the landscaping suppliers.

  5. i just love the fact that even if the soil is really bad, when the right techniques are applied, we can regenerate and improve it .... feels very therapeutic!

  6. Hi! What a lovely garden you have! I'm in the North Atlantic islands called azores and aiming to make my first mandala garden! My second wwoofer already made the central circle. However I have one doubt, how big are your circles, the diameter is big isn't it? Can you reach all the plants without walking inside the circle?
    Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences in this wonderfull blog, i'm really happy for having found it.
    All the best,