DMK Permaculture

Permaculture Mandala Garden, Chicken Tractor Design


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Spring Collection

We have a collection of Trampoline Springs.

          The humble tramp spring is very handy as a good strong durable spring, and usually can be found in multiples, and . . most times for free. We have found they are especially handy for keeping gates closed. And another use for them is to keep tension on a tarpaulin.

         GATES   The photo below shows a gate with a spring fitted on a predominately vertical angle. This angle helps to soften the tension on the gate, so it closes more gently rather than slamming hard behind you.

Spring Coll 1

The spring below is fitted to tension the gate so it closes very firmly, with no chance of it blowing open in a strong wind, or being nudged open by a dog’s snout. Spring Coll 2

We used a very small ‘D Shackle’ to connect to the gate, which are cheap from hardware store and ideally suited to this application. We used Vice Grips to grip the spring and heave it round to hook on the gate or the D shackle.Spring Coll 3

          TARPS   The photo below shows a spring tensioning a tarpaulin, by tying the rope to the spring and connecting the spring to the corner of the tarp.Spring Coll 4

The tarp stays fairly taught at all times and is much less likely to balloon out and rip or break free.Spring Coll 5


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Chookhouse Breeding Pens

          The plan on our home page shows three breeding pens for chooks adjacent to the seeding shed. These pens will be for breeding chooks to sell as breeding pairs, and to raise for eating. The concept of the pens was done as a drawing sketch with a rough idea of dimensions but mostly we ordered standard lengths of steel and it is being developed as it’s built. It’s kind of an organic development.

Chookhouse & Shed 05 2015

Panaramic Fisheye View of Chookhouse & Seedling Area

          The pens are absolutely dog and dingo proof, python proof, goanna proof, and even rat proof. We had two young roosters in the same dome so they had to be separated. We have eaten the other two roosters, but we are keeping one; Syd, a Sussex boy with a good temperament. He’ll be handy to us in future. 

Here’s Percy and Prissy, a Plymouth Rock couple, the first occupants of the new pens.

                          We put some fertile eggs from Percy & Prissy, and also some from Syd Sussex & Red (a Red Sussex hen) under Sparkles, a broody Seabright/Sussex cross, and we now have ten chicks, in the luxury of the new pen.

                        These pens will have a little night house at the rear which will be raised up from ground level and will also have a large access door at the rear for easy cleaning, and a slide out worm farm positioned under the night house floor, so droppings can be scraped straight in. The raised night house also allows for the droppings and hay to be scraped straight into a wheelbarrow parked at the rear.

Chookhouse 1

Main Frames

Chookhouse 2

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Predator Ponds

          The Mandala Design we are following has a pond featured in the centre of each mandala. The pond is a critical part of the natural pest control system of our garden by enabling a better balance of the predators versus garden pests. We’ve installed a natural pond, without much filtration or attention needed.

           The garden pests are controlled in a natural way using larger predators who can live in plentiful numbers, in and around the pond, e.g. frogs, lizards and spiders, all we do is maintain an environment to nurture the sustainability of the pest control system. A healthy natural pond with plenty of hidy holes in the rocks.

Pond Hole 1

         Construction seen here . . . the only way to dig a hole is with one of these. Introducing “Bill the Excavator” (BillEx) Our newest edition to the workforce, demonstrates Pond Building without the sweat.

Dana & BillEx Pond1

           Started with a basic hole the desired size and depth of about 1,500mm diameter by 450mm deep. Then purchased a rubber liner of the correct size to accommodate our dimensions. Smoothed out the surface of the hole with care, removing all sharp stones or twigs, and then laid the liner straight in/across. Spread over the hole, and held in place around the perimeter with nice looking rocks, just add water, it all stretches, and hey presto! The result is a great looking pond, shown below ready for planting of water plants and herbs in the garden beds surrounding the rocky border.

Pond 1

             We will never walk in this pond as this will definitely cause a puncture in the liner, but the water’s own weight is not enough to cause a puncture. Better to pre-line the bottom of pond hole with sand, and/or old carpet, or similar sheeting to soften the inside of the hole. As we are not going to step in the pond and ours was soft dry powdery clay, we didn’t bother softening the hole with other layers. Hope it’s OK, guess we’ll see what happens.


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Mandala Layout Guide

          From the diagram below you get a good idea how the Mandala layout should look ideally. Six circle beds all in their own big circle, with a herb bed & pond in the centre. The diagram below suits a mandala using a 3.5mt diameter chook dome. Working with a string line from centre post, mark out the inner circle line for the centre Herb bed and Pond, then mark out the circle line of the centre points of the six circle beds.   (click on diagram to view larger &/or print pdf)Mandala Layout guide

         A hint with this is; The radius of a circle, will divide it’s own circumference into six, well nearly, roughly . . . there-abouts anyway!  So if one gap between circles ends up being a bit wider than the others it’s OK. We deliberately planned our layout to provide a little more width for the main access pathway into the middle of the mandala and pond.

           Hammer in a peg in the centre of each circle bed, and mark out the individual circle outlines of the beds. In our case, we used ‘lime’ to mark the circles, but you can use flour. Then compost up the beds adding horse poo and peanut mulch, plant some buck wheat, cover with mulch hay. Water the bed a plenty and let it settle & the buckwheat shoot and grow a bit, then it’s ready for Chook Dome to move on to it. Freshen the mulch and plant vegie seedlings straight after the dome moves to next bed.

Mandala 1 Planning

Mandala One Layout

          The Chook Dome moves around the two Mandalas (set of circles) in a figure 8 pattern, spending 2 weeks on each bed. This equates to one complete circuit every 6 months. Clockwise on the first Mandala (pic below) and anticlockwise on the second Mandala still in layout (pic below that). Note; Chook Dome sites are only the outside circles, the centre circle is for a pond and perennial herb beds.

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Critter Proof Fencing

Our definition of a critter proof fence is to keep out bandicoots, rabbits, cane toads, foxes, dingoes, dogs,  kangaroos, wallaroos, wallabies, betongs; and other critters like a neighbour’s stray goat, horse, cow or pig. There are some we will never stop, such as large pythons, and goannas.   Qu “Where does a 300Kg gorilla sit?”  Ans Anywhere he wants!”  The same with +6mt long pythons and +2mt goannas, when we come across them, we gently coerce them to move on, or call wildlife enthusiasts for assistance.
Fence 00
The fence is 165cm high, has three wire strands with dog wire mesh from the top strand 120cm down to the bottom strand about 50cm off the ground. Recycled corrugated iron is hung horizontally along the bottom of the fence, trenched into the the ground about 20cm to 25cm. We found this design of fence is effective in keeping unwanted critters from the garden. Some fences have a skirt buried outwards from the bottom of the fence,  and while this was considered as well, in the last 5 years we haven’t found it necessary. Digging under the buried corro iron will be challenging enough for critters. So in keeping with permaculture principles we have designed a fence which we know to be effective to keep out the critters and pests in our area.

We chose to use galvanised pipe for posts and strainers rather than timber, for longevity reasons and given our local termite issues, we are simply too old to do things twice, or ‘the hard way’. Using galv pipe saved on labour costs and messing with heavy tree trunks and machines. The extra cost ended up being a small price considering the years it will last.

Fence 01

First the corner strainer holes were dug by machine auger, the posts were cut and assembled and concreted in position as one piece, all bolted together. We used 2 inch posts, and 1.1/4 inch angled braces.
Fence 02 Continue reading