Showing posts with label vegetable garden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetable garden. Show all posts

Sunday, 21 September 2014

The season's first chickens hatching; it must be Ostara

Happy Ostara to all; it is the spring equinox, which means that day and night are equal, due to our planet appearing to have no tilt at this stage of its orbit around the sun. It also means that my hens will bring forth chickens (and they have, right on cue), the sheep girls will cycle for the first time since they birthed their babies at Imbolc (it's driving Stag the ram crazy as he is locked away from them until Mabon, at the end of March) and daffodils flower in the garden. In the bush the kangaroos all have bulging pouches and the wattle is flowering like little golden suns.

At this time of year the world is new and fresh, new life springs forth from every corner and the potential of the summer is revealed. This time of year is so inspiring.

This year we celebrated by taking a Cheese and Garlic tour. We visited some market gardens in the area and a cheese factory and ended up at a brewery for lunch (of course). It was a brilliant day. Unfortunately all the photographs I took of the day were lost when my phone threw an SD card (that's how my partner phrased it). Instead I will share some photos of Ostara at the humpy....

This is Steve; he comes to the 'Retired chooks' pen for a feed when I refill their feeder. He is a King Parrot and his mate's name is Kerry.

We have two batches of chickens at the moment; one lot was hatched two weeks ago and one hatched on Ostara morning (20th September) 

There are some chicks from each hatch in this photo; our hens tend to mother all the babies together.

The zucchini are beginning to fruit.

The cabbages are hearting up

The Hugelkultur beds are looking green and productive

Yes, we planted lettuce, even though they will bolt to seed after a very short pick. I love lettuce at this time of year.

The last planting of snow peas are fruiting. The other two plantings were eaten by chooks so this will be our first harvest.
I also went to a spring garden tour in my mother's garden, I have a lot of photos from that, but the garden is so awesome it deserves its own post.

What did you do for Ostara?

Monday, 7 October 2013

Dry days of spring and Hugelkultur update number two

The hot, dry, windy months of spring are here. I am using lots of water on the garden and there is no rain in sight to refill the tanks. I water the garden with the water from the washing (about 160 litres a week) and from the chook and sheep water buckets when I refill them (about 30 litres); I also use about 20 litres a day straight from the tank to water the seedlings and potted plants. I am happy to be re-using the water from the washing and animal waters but I think I need to start putting a plug in the bath when we shower too, so I can scoop it out and water more. This drying wind really affects the vegetables.
In an effort to save my seedlings and tender plants, I have been covering the seedling hardening off area with old sheets to conserve water and provide a little shade. 

My seedling raising area.

Happy seedlings in pie trays to give them time to soak up the sprinkle I give them every day.

In the Hugelkultur beds everything is growing well. I still only water these beds once a week with the washing water (about 80 litres). This bed badly needs re-mulching to further conserve water (that is my goal for this week).

I know it looks dry, but the soil under the plants stays reasonably damp.

In the hugelkultur beds I have......


Roma tomato, just little fruit at present.


brocolli, just starting to bud.

And good old silver beet.

The trailer bed has broad beans and some really late snow peas; so I covered it to provide some protection from wind and sun. We might get lucky and get a crop.

The heirloom lettuce in the trailer bed is going well and we eat off it every day.

We are looking forward to beetroot soon, but in the meantime the leaves are added to stir fry and salad (when my partner isn't looking)

Friday, 13 September 2013

Seedling area update

It has been a few weeks since I received my Diggers Club order and set up the little seedling time for an update. The Diggers Club seeds have proven very fertile with most seeds germinating within days of being sown. I have developed a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for my planting and potting on (I just love the official sound of that; really it's just the way I do things for now).

I sow the seeds in punnets of potting mix, label them and put the date on them.

When the seeds have germinated and are big enough to handle, I pot them on individually into newspaper pots filled with compost (to give them a burst of nutrients when they need it).

How to make paper pots (although I use several layers of paper to make them last longer)

Once the seedlings have recovered from potting on, I move them to the second plant stand in the vegetable garden area to grow up enough to plant (or to wait until bed space is available).

So far this SOP is working really well and I have been able to produce lots of tomato (Black Russian), carrot (Purple Dragon), rocket (Pronto), broccoli (Purple Sprouting) and Love-in-a-mist (Blue). The beetroot (Heirloom mix) has sprouted in it's punnet, but I haven't had time to pot them on yet.
 A weekly water with fish emulsion mix cures the leaching of nitrogen from the compost by the newspaper pots that was happening to begin with.

I water the seeds in punnets with pure water every three days or so and the seedlings with the water from the chook's drinking container when I wash it out (about every two days). The vegetables in the beds are surviving on the water from the sheep trough when I change it (about every three days) and the washing and rinse water from clothes washing (once a week). This system means that I use every drop of water twice (the shower water drains to the bog garden site, which will be planted with comfrey, banana, Louisiana iris and sweet potato, but isn't yet) and I can survive for much longer on our single tank of rain water.

In other news....
I have a hen sitting on some Minorca eggs, thanks to the kindness of one of my friends (thanks Zoe) who gave me a dozen fertile eggs. I thought it was time to introduce some new blood into my flock, and fertile eggs are the best way to do it. When chickens are raised in the flock from the egg up they do not introduce new diseases and the trauma (to the chickens) of introducing new flock members is eliminated.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The seeds are here!

My package from the Diggers Club arrived. I got open pollinating seeds of;

  1.  rocket - pronto
  2. Beetroot - Chioggia, Bull's Blood , Golden and White Blankoma
  3. Broccoli - Purple Sprouting
  4. Eggplant - Rosa Bianca, Violetta di Firenze, Slim Jim and Listada di Gandia
  5. Green beans - Lazy Housewife (I wish)
  6. Carror - Purple Dragon
  7. Tomato - Tommy Toe
  8. Corn - Golden Bantam
  9. Water melon - Moon and Stars
  10. Silverbeet - Five colour mix

My new seed collection

I decided to take my daughter's advice and put the seedlings beside the back door. I didn't have to move the sick animal aviary after all because I bought one of the little plastic covered green houses suggested by Jacqui (Dusty Country Road blog) and put it in the most protected position I could find, as also suggested by Jacqui. The little green house is now full to the brim with seeds planted in punnets and newspaper pots.
The new seedling raising area. My potting table is to the left against the aviary wall and the little green house is full of enthusiasm.
Some of the seedlings in my little green house. Roma tomatoes potted on from a punnet I bought. These are bound for the school gardens I am custodian to.
In an excess of enthusiasm I also potted some herbs into an indoor herb tower which will live beside a North facing window in the kitchen and hopefully result in us having lots of parsley, chives, oregano and mint added to our meals (not all of them together, obviously).

The next challenge for me is to complete stages 3 and four of the Hugelkultur beds so I can plant out all these new seedlings. I have given myself a month to do that. Wish me luck.

I am finding that setting myself goals that have to be met by a certain time is helping me to get things done in the garden. What techniques do you use to get things done?

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Hugelkultur update

The Hugelkultur beds (stages one and two) have been in for a month now, so I thought it was time for an update.

The beds themselves look great; there has been minimal sinking and the soil below the mulch layer is moist despite only having been watered twice and rained on several times. So the moisture holding capabilities of this gardening method are proving to be exceptional.
The seeds of beans, peas, tomato, lettuce and cucumber have failed to come up so far, that could be the age of the seeds though. The seeds of grain amaranth and fenugreek that were strewn over the beds as a green manure crop (and to clear them from the seed packet container) have sprouted extensively so there will be a carpet of green on the beds within the next month, which should help to hold the soil together and prevent too much erosion if we get the wild spring storms common to our area.

You can't tell from this distance..but things are stirring in there

One tiny plant coming up....possibly a tomato

I also bought some seedling in from our local nursery; broccoli, cabbage, zucchini , tomato and lettuce. I planted these out in the Hugelkultur beds too and so far they are doing Ok.
Zuchini in the Hugelkultur beds
Cabbage in the Hugelkultur beds

I have also had some success with planting in the trailer bed; with everything I have planted in there growing wildly.

Strawberries are going well in the old trailer bed

The broad beans are trying to make up for a slow start by growing really fast

Some late calendula is growing well, destined to be ointment one day

 So that is the extent of my garden at the moment.
Work continues on stage three of the Hugelkultur bed and on the half tank herb bed; both of which are still at the 'collect a heap of old wood' stage. I try to collect at least one wheelbarrow full of wood every day I have at home, but have been sadly lax lately. The beds will be built, even if it takes until next school holidays.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Heirloom seeds on the way

I just joined the The Digger's Club and ordered my first batch of heirloom, non-hybrid, non-GMO vegetable seeds. It's very exciting for me and I am dreaming about the vegetable garden I will grow with these seeds.

Now all I have to do is build myself a seedling raising area that is rodent and chook proof, has enough light and is not in danger of getting too hot as the weather warms up and is close enough to both the humpy and the vegetable garden to be convenient for daily visits; all in the next two weeks (which is the deadline for the arrival of the seeds.

There are several candidates for a position;
Beside the front door
Advantages; I pass it all the time, it is fairly sheltered from the wind.
Disadvantages; it faces west and so gets only afternoon sun.

Behind the tap on the left of the door is a 40 cm  x 85 cm space.

Beside the back door;
Advantages; it faces east and so gets morning sun, it is sheltered from the wind and hot afternoon sun and I pass it often.
Disadvantages; I would need to move the 'sick animal' aviary to a new position (it is currently housing an out of season clutch of chickens.

The aviary on the left is where I keep sick wildlife and other animals that happen to stray into my care (the fish tanks are for snakes and lizards)

Beside the chook pen/vegetable garden gate;
Advantages; It is close to the vegetable beds, I pass it all the time, it has morning sunlight to some extent.
Disadvantages; It requires cleaning up an unruly mess (could be an advantage also), it faces west and is exposed to the east also, it is exposed to the wind.

It looks even more of a mess in photos. I think I'd better clean this up no matter where I put the seedlings.

I would like to hear some opinions about where I should put my new seedling area and some suggestions for making it rodent and chook proof. Feel free to comment.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Stage two Hugelkultur bed finished

Today was a really productive day. Firstly we decided that we need firewood this morning, which mean't that the trailer had to be emptied of it's current half load of top soil. My two daughters and I got all that soil moved onto the stage two hugelkultur bed in about an hour then collected some mulch and planted a few seedlings in it (just for fun).

 I am so happy to have that bed space to plant out, I can't wait until it starts to produce. The chooks are beginning to lay again, so I have heaps of eggs to play with.

We also had a visit from our heron; he stops by to check out the dam about once a month.

  Meanwhile my partner (who had another day off; two in a fortnight!!) whipper-snipped a path through the tall blady grass so I could move the sheep onto new ground. This involves taking down the electric fencing and putting it up again in a new spot.

 They are now busily clearing a pile of tree heads I want too use for firewood and hugelkultur. I am so pleased we got sheep; they save us so much work and they are such characters.
So almost time to go back to work, I hope I can continue to develop my garden.