Repurposing projects

A significant part of implementing the permaculture ethic “land care” is to repurpose as much as we can in order to reduce our impact on what goes into the landfall. It also makes us more sustainable and more resourceful if we can re-use rather than buy anew. This post documents a great little project in repurposing, together with a little bit of family fun on the side.

Two seemingly unrelated problems

In our Homeland raised vegetable garden we have had this grossly under-utilised bed for years now. It contained an old woody straggly oregano, an equally woody thyme and some bits of mint which has crept in there from who knows where. This bed has been like this for years, since we moved in, if I remember correctly. My hands have been burning for a long while to make more of this bed.

Reap - HL problem

Across the fence in Dreamland we had a more pressing problem. In the area right next to the to-be duck pond the weeds had totally overtaken the area while we were away gallivanting through Europe. The affect was that the pennyroyal and the creeping boobialla (myoporum parvifolium) we had planted before had basically been smothered. This introduced two more related problems. Firstly, we are on schedule to get ducks this summer and ducks + open ground = mud in the pond, especially with it being right next to the pond. Enter sub-problem 1b – if I don’t do anything about it, how do I tell the little one that it will now take us even longer to get the ducks? I mean, she’s got them a list of names already… Secondly, we are under a serious budget restraint, so the option to rush out and buy a lot of hardy ground cover is also not available.


I was going to relocate the thyme to the Homeland driveway, in an attempt to keep the odd stray wild rabbits away from my precious young tagasastes. I had no clear idea what to do with the oregano, except maybe use it in our guilds somewhere. And then it struck me! The oregano creates quite a dense cover and it doesn’t die off as much over winter either (as the pennyroyal and boobialla does). So why not transplant the oregano next to the pond? It would quite naturally just become part of the pear tree guild.

So an interesting little repurposing project was born:

  • Break up the oregano and replant it next to the pond (the thyme ended up going the same route.) I still want to add some height and different colours – maybe sage and comfrey inbetween?

    Reap - DL planted

    Pond-side planted with Oregano

  • Start pruning the lemon tree a la Mr Ian Tolley’s citrus masterclass.
  • Redo the one side of the bed using hardwood I had left over from the strawberry terrace greenhouse exchange. I tried an interesting experiment with this bed. We are finding more and more kikuyu and mint creeping up from the ground into the raised beds all over the vegetable garden, together with Eucalyptus roots from the school behind us that suck our beds dry, so I lined this bed with some left-over weed mat to see if it would make a difference.
  • Fill the new bed properly as a no-dig bed.
  • Plant the new bed with strawberry runner seedlings we had made as a result of the strawberry terrace exercise.Reap - HL planted
  • Redo the irrigation to be temporarily removable from strawberry bed, while making it more appropriate for the lemon tree.Reap - HL lemon irrigation

Fun on the side

With it being school holidays, I was coaxed into another “repurposing” exercise too! Using parts from two little bikes they had outgrown, together with wood we had lying around that came out of the old strawberry terrace structure, we managed to concoct a fun push cart for the kids.

Reap - fun

Of course the little mister has big plans for the cart, like a full steering mechanism, and forbid – a roof, which I think will push the repurposing reserves a bit too far…

Reap - cart


Thinking back on these two projects, these three aspects make me really happy:

  • Apart from 8 small brackets we needed to attach the bicycle wheels to the cart and a bag of Lucerne mulch for the no-dig bed, everything we used were either available or produced on-site. One day when my tagasastes are big enough, I wouldn’t need to buy the Lucerne mulch either. (OK, I acknowledge that it was fortunate that we had enough straw on site – that may not always be the case. The same applies to screws and irrigation fittings – at times you run out and have to stock up on those again. But we do re-use all irrigation fittings when we change the setup – argh, getting those joiners out of the old pipes is a pain!)
  • The strawberry seedlings we made off runners had grown really nice roots in the greenhouse over winter, with almost no attention. Likewise, the home-made seedling mix we planted them in also worked really well. (OK, the seedling mix has some acquired inputs.)
  • When doing our first no-dig bed after completing my PDC course, I had to refer back to my notes on how to fill the bed. Second time round, the beds at Dreamland were easier. This time the work just flowed naturally and I just mixed the components (multiple layers of straw, our own home-made compost and Lucerne mulch, with a thin layer of topsoil on top) on autopilot. Maybe it’s just conquering an old-age memory issue… but man, it felt so good planting into that spongey medium!

All in all, two little fun exercises in repurposing and a step closer to improved sustainability. Happy customer.

About (207 Articles)
My name is Martin Rennhackkamp, I now live happily in Lara, Victoria, Australia with my wife, two children and two dogs. My interests, apart from the obvious Organic, Biodynamic and Permaculture Gardening and Farming, include sustainable living, surfing, horse-riding, a wide variety of music, dancing, nature, birds, reading, Christianity and a few other things which I never get to...

1 Comment on Repurposing projects

  1. One of the difficulties of working for a large facility is seeing all the waste of what does not get recycled or repurposed. It is really not that much relative to the use it all gets, but it seems like a lot. The people I work with are quite efficient at recycling what they can, which is very gratifying. They even process some of the trees that get cut down into lumber to maintain the old buildings here. It is important to them to use the same sort of lumber that the buildings were constructed with.

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