Autumn chores: compost, ducks and beans…

| Milkwood Farm | 19 comments | Author :


It’s the time of year to shell the beans for saving (and eating), to pick the last of the rocket, to take the tomato trellises down.

Time to make compost of the in-edible bits of the harvest’s tail end, in order to cycle nutrient for next season’s growth… 





This time of year is when all the memories of the past 12 months clang and bang against each other in my head…

Last winter – how warm we were in our little hand-made house, how cold it was outside.

The spring planting, the growing, the lack of summer rain. The beautiful interns and crew and students we shared our table with throughout our summer season.

The on-farm stuff. The off-farm stuff. The ocean waves we swam in mid-summer. The farm dams we swam in through Autumn.

The rain that finally came in March – 18 months too late for many growers in our region, but we’d managed to hang in there, mostly.

The harvest, the picking, the preserving and the pickling.

The ducklings, and the shiitake mushrooms, and the tomatoes, and all the permaculture design students.

The bees all humming in the creekside manna gums, which flowered in force all through Autumn, ensuring our hives go into winter strong and healthy and with plenty of winter stores (no harvest for us this year though – maybe next time).







When we’ve had good rain, and the sky is as clear as it has been these last few weeks, and everything has responded by growing greener than green, this place feels perfect.

The tomato plants are all off their trellises, the pumpkins are all picked.

We give thanks for everyone we’ve met this season, and all that we’ve learned.




My goals for this Winter include learning how to make best-ever bone broth, and storing the bean tipi bean harvest for planting next Spring.

I’m also looking forward to helping create a fantabulous new urban permaculture learning garden for our new courses home in inner-city Sydney.

And to read, read, read. Oh, and write a book, too. The first of many, we hope.

Better make lots of bone broth to get us through till Spring, i think!

What are your plans for winter?


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  • swo8

    Where in the world are you? We just had a winter to end all winters. The spring hasn’t been any too great either. If we ever get to the stage where there is no more frost I’ll plant my vegetables and flowers. (Canada)

  • Kirsten

    We’re in Mudgee, Australia…

  • Alacoque

    My first batch of bone broth made it into jars yesterday. Twas relatively pain-free and something I shall do more of this winter! I used the slow cooker which made it very easy and avoided any weird/unpleasant smells. With a new baby due in spring we are attempting to get the house in order, including renovations, new solar panels, and a massive decluttering effort. I love the look of those dried beans. I can’t wait until we have a piece of land big enough to fit a teepee! One day…!

  • Yanic A.

    My goodness, our winter has FINALLY ended so we are one to spring and warmth soon (we hope)… What a beautiful retrospective. Wishing you a wonderful winter down under…

  • Nicki Noo

    Enjoy your winter Kirsten ! Looking forward to your book! Xxx this winter I would like to complete all those unfinished projects that happen …and bake!

  • Thom Foote

    I absolutely love watching your activities and my activities going on at opposite ends of the season. It is like a future echo. Thanks.

  • Kade

    Hey Kirsten, good to hear that Milkwoods gardens are resilient in times of high stress … what all growers should aim for. Winter seedlings going in here, green house tunnel completion this weekend, new shed for garden only needs with an under cover hand craft zone … watch out for wooden bowls and spoons! Stay warm mate.

    • Kirsten

      Wooden bowls! Will you swap for garlic? xx

      • Kade

        When I’ve got a few I pack up all my wares and come a travelin and we’ll see what we can trade in true tradesmanship tradition.

  • yvettedelacy

    we still have our tomatoes but only just! we are down in Victoria in the mountains

  • fraseroldmillroad

    I’ll be sleeping. And trying to finish all the things I’ve started.

  • Liana S

    I feel truly ignorant for asking, but is it really Autumn in Australia? Can you explain the seasons/approximate dates in Australia? It’s spring planting season here in the Northeastern United States!

    • Kirsten

      The other hemisphere of the planet experiences seasons in the opposite cycle. This has been happening for quite a while.

      • Liana S

        :-) I never really thought about it. I can’t wait to mention that to my son. He’ll be so amused!

  • stretchnseal123

    Lovely pictures. Great post

  • Gavin Noble

    I have always thought you should write a book! I started following your blog a few years ago and it’s still the one and only blog I’ve ever followed. Not only would any book you’d write be interesting but also informative and probably really fun! I’m sorry I didn’t say anything earlier. Good luck with the writing process.

  • Nina Saxton

    I will be busy with most of our veggies growing over the lovely winter period in Queensland. Trialling the new two wheel tractor for some serious veg growing, scything grass in the orchard for bedding for the geese and nurturing my new kombutcha culture! New to the fermentation game but enjoyed your blogs on the subject. Happy soup making 😉

  • rach

    Bringing up chickens to lay in the spring. I’ll miss my spoiled baby girls but I’m looking forward to eggies.

  • Louise Glut

    Planting paddock trees especially more kurrajongs, putting native fish in our dams. Getting my meat chickens into the pasture, sucessful lambing. Planting quinces, walnuts and pomegranates.