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

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Some more unusual vegetable beds made from old pallets

Yes...I did it again; I saw some old junk laying around and thought "That would make a really good garden bed"

This time it was an old pallet. My partner installs stand alone solar systems so he occasionally brings home a pallet that has been used to transport panels or batteries. They are usually used as fire starters (being made of pine they burn fast and hot).

I had cleaned out the trailer bed ready to be planted with more green pick for salads and stir fries, and was thinking I need more space for lettuce and baby spinach when I wandered past the 'to burn' pile and saw the pallet.

I propped it up with a stack of old tyres to be level with the trailer bed.

Lined the bottom and up the sides with black plastic from the 'take to the dump please' pile and stapled  it in place. 

Filed the lot up with soil, potting mix and compost and poked a lot of holes in the bottom. There it is; complete with bird cage covers to keep the chooks out of the lettuce.

The trailer bed is all cleared and ready for planting too.
The pallet bed is very shallow (about 10 cm) so it will be hard to grow anything but lettuce or baby spinach in it, but if the soil is rich enough and it doesn't dry out it should do the job.

Being made out of pine the whole thing will only last a year or two, but it re-uses something from my rubbish pile and makes a useful short term bed so I'm happy.

Using pallets for gardens isn't really unknown; I found these examples on the internet.

I guess I will be using more of the old pallets that make it home from now on.

What do you upcycle at your place?

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Lammas....the festival of first harvest

Today we are celebrating Lammas; the festival of first harvest, or the bread feast.
At Lammas we harvest seeds from our crops; an activity filled with symbolism. When we harvest seed from our crops we are reaping the rewards of our labors during the season (if I hadn't planted, weeded and carried bath water to the silverbeet all summer, I wouldn't be harvesting seeds from it now), we are also gathering the hope for future seasons (I will plant the seed I harvest to grow more silverbeet).

Lammas in Australia

The song 'John Barleycorn must die' is a song about the yearly cycle of grain growing...symbolically.

This year we made a bread man to share and harvested the corn we planted in the sacred garden at Ostara. We also made some corn dolls to be buried with the corn when we plant it next Ostara.
Corn dolls are a really old tradition/ art from our various ancestors; making a doll from some of the harvest gives the spirit of the grain a place to live until it is planted again. They also make a sweet little decoration for the altar.

Amerind corn dolls
Celtic corn dolls

How to make corn dolls

The seed packets I made to hold our corn seed.

The corn dolls and some seed packets.

A close up of my Corn Lady, she is tied together with home spun wool (that I spun myself)

The Bread Man, he represents a thank you for the sacrifice the wheat makes so that we can eat bread for the year.

Our Lammas altar.

Hanging the Corn Lord mask

The corn before the harvest in the sacred garden.

The altar in the dusk.

It's almost time to replant the sacred garden. There are still pumpkins in there for Samhain though (well, A pumpkin)

Harvesting the corn

The Bread Man loses his head (with an appropriate thank you)

Bread Man dipped in honey; is there anything more yummy at this time of year?

We also got a cute twinned cob

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Square foot gardening update number two

The trailer bed I planted using the square foot gardening method is growing really well. I am pleased with the results, mostly. Some of the squares are not growing as well as I would like for a variety of reasons, but the bed looks great and I will be starting to pick greens for salads very soon.

The climbing and bush beans are thriving (as you can see), they are heading up the trellis and some are even growing out the top of the net.

The baby salad greens are ready to harvest too; don't they look yummy.

The little cucumbers are finally up and starting to grow. The beans are providing competition for light though; I will have to remember to plant the climbers further apart next time.

The Ceylon spinach is thriving and is ready to use but the mizuna, onions and carrots have not taken off as I would have liked. The germination rate for the carrots and onion was low too.

The eggplant is up and growing well and the Tokyo bekana is ready to eat but the silver beet is struggling and I am down to two in the square.

The capsicum is a seedling as none of the seeds I planted germinated, but it is growing really well.

So far I am impressed with the method, even though I will have to fine tune the planting a bit next time.
My advice to myself so far is;

Plant climbers with at least one square between them to minimize crowding.

Plant advanced seedlings of most vegetables (not carrots or beans).

Plant extra carrot seed, at least three per hole, to allow for poor germination.

Plant fast growers like beans two weeks after other seeds to reduce over shading of seedlings.

Elsewhere in the garden........

My marigolds are looking beautiful at the moment.

I have a big pot of Lemon Balm (Melissa) coming up right beside the door.

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.