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

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Washing machine garden beds update

The beds are actually growing vegetables.
I don't want to crow too loud but the washing machine beds seem to have escaped the notice of ducks, possums and chooks alike. I very carefully don't check on the progress of the little seedlings growing in them while I can see anyone in the yard as all the various life forms seem to take notice of what we humans think is interesting and investigate themselves.
The process for watering or checking is ridiculously clandestine; first I go out the door on the opposite side of the humpy and mess around in the yard for a few seconds, once everybody gets the news that I'm out there and the paparazzi starts to gather I casually drop a handful of grain on the ground and retreat from the ensuing feeding frenzy back inside.

The paparazzi gathering

Then I very quietly go out the back door and water, check, feed or whatever I need to do with the beds, all the while keeping my eyes open for visitors. If I see a duck or chook come back around the side of the house I just pretend to be admiring the scenery until they leave.
Why not just lock up the ducks and chooks I hear you ask? Well... the ducks are muscovies and are quite territorial so they chase the possums out of the yard, they patrol all night and all day. They contribute to the safety of the garden without even knowing it. The two chooks left running wild in the yard are delicate in nature (Big; our old rooster is too aged to be in the general population any more and Curly is a special case who just doesn't fit in anywhere else). Also, I sort of enjoy the challenge and the sneaking around.

This is Curly; our special needs chook.

The snow peas, carrots, silverbeet and beetroot in these beds are all doing really well so far, I'm hoping for a full harvest this year.

Carrots and peas


Peas, beetroot and lettuce

Peas and beetroot


Peas and beetroot

I will write a post about our special needs chook; Curly soon. This chook is an interesting case...even for us.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Square foot gardening and Hugelkultur planting mash up in containers

Well spring is really here, I have been busy planting the trailer bed using the square foot method and wishing for just a bit more planting space. Then it occurred to me that I could use square foot planting in almost any container. As luck (or my slatternly habits) would have it, I found the perfect containers in the useful pile; milk crates.
We have been collecting milk crates for years, they are so useful. I use them for book shelves, storage boxes, wood boxes, animal cages (with lids fitted), recycling bins and now as garden beds. Is there anything a milk crate can't do?
My first move was to line some crates with old hail netting to hold the soil in, then I began to think about moisture retention. After much thought I decided that a plastic shopping bag or two spread across the bottom of each crate would hold the moisture long enough to be absorbed by the lumps of old wood I threw into the bottom, I then added compost from the chook pen a layer of straw from the sheep shelter and planted them. A cover over the top to protect the tender little seeds from predators (chooks, ducks, possums and Shaun) and it was done.

These little beds are a combination of Hugelkultur and square foot gardening, I don't know if it will work, but it seemed worth the effort.

The trailer bed, all planted out, but still with some parsley from the last planting.

My new planters

Now the long wait to see what comes up.....

Shaun 'helping' me in the yard.

At presentation day at work (school) last year I got a peach tree as an end of year gift. I promptly planted it and it has grown so well. Now it has it's first fruit on and I will have to start thinking about how to protect the fruit from...well, everything.

My peach tree has little peaches.

It doesn't seem so long ago that I planted this little peach.

After a hard days work Shaun likes to relax with his friends by the fire.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Hugelkultur beds update

Stage four of the Hugelkultur beds has not yet been completed, but stages one, two and three are producing lots of food. The beds look like a jungle with plants fruiting, seeding and new plants emerging, there is a good mix of vegetables and flowers too. At the moment everything growing in these beds are annuals as I have plans to top up the soil at some point and I don't want to move perennial plants to do it.

The jungle on the right are the Hugelkultur beds, the potato towers can be seen on the left, against the fence and the whole floor is layered with cardboard. The chooks stare longingly through the fence at this little oasis of green.

The corn is doing well in stage three, but there will only be enough for one meal from this tiny planting. I need to put more in, looks like another bed building day is required.

The zucchini are producing lots of fruit and providing shelter for eggplant seedlings.

Green and purple sprouting broccoli are still producing enough heads to feed us. 

Roma tomatoes are giving us enough vine ripened fruit to qualify as a glut.

Good old silverbeet just keeps on giving, although only one plant remains of the original three; the other two have gone to seed. The climbing beans are picking and the second lot of bush beans are almost to flowering now.

The amaranth towers above it all and provides some colour to the scene as it seeds. After collecting seed from it for more plantings, I will give the seed heads to the chooks.

I am really pleased with the Hugelkultur method of building garden beds; it retains moisture, it is an attractive looking bed, it makes piles of rotting wood useful and it encourages me to build new bed space. I will be continuing to build more beds in the future (as time permits).

This is me, mowing the lawn. We put up an electric fence around all the stuff we don't want them to eat first. Sheep are nature's mowers and whipper snippers.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Square foot garden update

The seedlings are up in the trailer bed in which I am trialing square foot gardening. The beans are towering above everything else but most of the seeds have sprouted.

I have taken the advice of Mel Bartholomew and thinned the seedlings to the appropriate number and spacing per square foot, it caused me great pain to pull out good seedlings and volunteer plants from the last crop so I hope it pays off.

The bush beans are growing so fast they will be taller than the strawberries by tomorrow.

You can just see the carrots coming up.

The lettuce is looking healthy inside it's square.

The Tokyo Bekana is up, and it needed thinning.

 I am watering the entire bed at a rate of 10 litres per day, I scoop out the water from our showers and use it to water the whole garden. When the seedlings have all grown a set of true leaves I will mulch between them with a fine mulch like dried grass clippings or chaff to help retain moisture in the soil.

I am now wondering if I could combine square foot gardening with my Hugelkultur beds to make use of the best qualities of both methods, or would it be better to  use the Hugelkultur beds for large vegetables like zucchini, brassicas, corn and tomatoes and use the square foot gardening bed for small vegetables that can be grown intensively. What do you think?

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Square foot gardening

The trailer bed has been planted with broad beans, snow peas, lettuce, beetroot, strawberries and calendula as my late winter/early spring crops. Now all those crops are finished so it's time to replant. 

The broad beans produced very well.

The calendula provided flower petals for oinitment, seeds for planting and looked pretty too.

The lettuce and strawberries grew really well together but now the lettuce has gone to seed.

Square Foot Gardening
I have been reading about square foot gardening lately and I thought I would give it a go in the trailer bed because the size of the trailer can be divided into 24 neat square foot beds.

I used wool to mark the beds out; not a long term solution, but it will do for the first planting.
I later removed the calendula, but decided to leave the strawberries.
The idea is to plant a given number of plants in a square foot of garden space. The beds need to be easily accessible and it's an advantage to have some trellis space. It's amazing how many varieties of plants can be squeezed into that little trailer bed using this method.
This method of gardening was pioneered by Mel Bartholomew, who must have a good mathematical mind.

This chart gives a planting guide for lots of common vegetables.

I planned the planting of my trailer bed using an online planning tool which made the planting much easier. Then I got to work planting the bed.

My November planting plan for the trailer bed (for some reason it shows the planting date as the date I downloaded the plan; the real planting date is 17th November 2013).

I dug up each square, added compost and a sprinkle of blood and bone and planted the required number of seeds in the square in the advised pattern.

The whole bed looks neat and tidy again. I put the shad sheet back on until all those seeds sprout then I will mulch the bed and take off the shade.

Carrot and Potato towers; growing potatoes in small spaces.

 You guessed I am largely immobile due to my knee injury I decided to go through my photos for the last few weeks and update all the posts I planned but didn't get to.

Carrot towers
The carrot towers have been disappointing so far; the carrots haven't grown at all and many have died. I'm not willing to give up on the idea yet though. Some of the possible causes of the failure are;

  • Transplanting the carrots (they don't really like to be moved) or transplanting them too young.
  • Over watering (I admit I went overboard on the watering because they were right beside the door)
  • No morning sun.
So next time I will either plant advanced seedlings, or seed into the tubes and I will move the whole thing to a spot that gets morning sun.

The carrots have not grown at all.

The marigolds around the bottom look great though.

Potato towers
I have had some success with potato towers though. The basic theory is the same as the carrot towers except all the growth comes out of the top of the tower and the height allows the plant to form many more potatoes than it could in the ground.

The potatoes surrounded by compost which is kept inside the wire tube by a newspaper lining.

The potatoes are planted into cardboard boxes full of compost to reduce grass invasion.
Each tower is planted with two potatoes, I have Desiree and Kipfler  potatoes in this year.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Carrot towers; an experiment in intensive growing

My little Purple Dragon carrot seedlings are growing up so fast so I thought it was time to start experimenting with ways to grow them.

We have no topsoil here at all (well a few centimeters in some places) so I have been thinking about raised beds for carrots for a while, then I came across this idea, called a flower tower and thought "Why not try it with carrots?"

As you can see, I built the frame as per instructions (see the 'flower tower' link)

Then I found a stray piece of PVC pipe and thought it would make a good water delivery system.

So out came my trusty drill

Dozens of holes were randomly drilled all over. I also plugged one end with a sink plug.

The pipe went into the middle of my frame, plugged end down.

Then I filled the lot with potting mix and compost.

I also added some PVC pipes through the bottom, sticking out about 25cm, to provide supports for the cover.

The seedlings were poked through the shade cloth into the potting mix. A job which took ages.

I planted a tomato and a love-in-a-mist in the top to provide colour and shade to the carrots (and maybe even tomatoes)

And marigolds around the base, for companion planting and for more colour.

The wire cover went over the whole lot and the seedlings watered in

Then I added an old sheet over the cover because it's a windy, hot day and the little seedlings need all the cover they can get for a few days.

The result so far is a mysterious, sheet covered mound. I have some concerns about this method;
If the carrots grow straight down, will I be able to harvest them?
Will I be able to keep the water up to them?
It is a time consuming business, putting the carrots through the shade cloth, is the yield worth the time?

I only planted 10 carrots in the tower as a trial run, but if it works there is room for 50 in just this little tower so the method certainly is space saving.

I will keep you posted on the progress of this experiment.