Thursday, December 26, 2013

Aspects of Petit Paradis

The garden is such a wonderland of surprises at the moment. There are tomatoes hiding deep in bushes along with pumpkins that were self sown and have fruit forming. The corn is doing well given it was sown early and then planted out just as we copped another few weeks of cold, wet weather. With any luck I will have managed to get three crops in this season, all staggered, providing we get the usual decent autumn weather that we usually get.

With the recent feeding up of snails, the Koi and goldfish have put on some good growth and are looking super healthy.

After the removal of our previous passionfruit we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Banana Passionfruit.

I have however, made a huge job for myself. I have been going through my seed collection and having a good cull of seeds. There are many that have been saved over the years that I do not have any records for and so it is a bit hit and miss with what will grow from them. Given that I have limited space in the garden I have put some seed aside to use for green manure. Others I am sowing out into pots to see what really germinates. If nothing comes of them, so be it. Otherwise I will plant our strong seedlings in the back garden bed when that is ready to utilise - at the moment I am waiting for some plants to finish setting seed, then I'll put in a new crop.

Other seeds I have grown from as little as five seeds and am gradually building up my numbers so that when we move there will be a good quantity of quality seed to sow a decent few rows of particular vegetables. For example I am building up numbers of bush beans and climbing beans, peas and zucchini. I have a small crop of popping corn on the go as a bit of a project for my son and to hopefully keep us in popcorn for another year or two.

In previous years I have grown several types of tomatoes along with several that have self sown in the garden from our composting - either from the shops or the Farmers' Market. This has given me a good variety that seem to do well in our location and climate. This year I also have a few heirloom varieties such as Periforme, so I am trialling these to see how they go.

Red Aztec Corn with its wig!

My Ongoing List of Plants for the New Garden

This list is for me to add to over time as I collect or think of plants to add to the New Garden  
D - Deciduous

Food Forest Plants

Thornless Youngberry (Mainly as a forage crop for the kids)
Thornless Blackberry (Same as above)
Youngberry (plenty of thorns but a good producer)
Fig (Green) D
Fig (Striped) D
Mulberry (M. macroura 'Shatoot') D - smaller growing mulberry tree with long white fruit. It is said to be the best mulberry for home gardens as it is a small tree which does not produce fruit that stains. It is native to India, Pakistan, southern China and Sri Lanka. This variety is on my wishlist.
Roseapple - Syzygium
Capulin Cherry  - Prunus salicifolia
Jelly Palm - Butia capitata
Cavendish Banana
Passionfruit -
Passionfruit - Banana
Choko - Green
Choko -  White
Grape - Dark (currently growing, will need propagating)
Grape - White
Grape - Sultana
Grapes - Currant (rescued cuttings, variety still to be confirmed

Lower storey Food Forest

Fruit Trees for Swales
Apricot  D (Grown from seed from a local tree, produces small but tasty fruits)
Lemon - Eureka - on my wishlist
Apple -
Apple -
Apple - Golden Blush - on the wishlist.
Persimmon - on my wishlist
Tahitian Lime - to replace the current one we have
Blood Orange - on the wishlist.
Navel Orange - on the wishlist
Imperial Mandarin - on the wishlist

Pioneer Plants
Tagetes marigolds

Salad Burnet
Mints - various in pots

Insect Attractors & Bee Pasturage
Buddleja - trimmed to produce a profusion of flowers as butterfly feeder
Milkweed - interplanted amongst other plants to attract butterflies and nurture caterpillars esp. Monarch
Bronze Fennel

Over Abundance

One of the concepts or aspirations I have in mind for the new garden project is to fully design it for creating an over abundance of produce. Not just food, but also materials and benefits.

I have come to thinking that this is going to be a necessary part of the gardens output and so have been thinking over how to best achieve this. The block is sloping sand that faces slightly off from north. There is ample sunlight and good drainage. I just need to build the surface soil and get the soil life flourishing. Rather than container gardens as we have here I am looking at planting out with areas of container gardens around the houses themselves, along with supplementary aquaponic systems here and there. For the main garden my current leaning is towards a couple of swales across the block to make the most of the slope, the sunlight and the water opportunities while also giving the fruit trees a good foundation for getting established and utilising the wood that we have from the tree felling and clearing.

In contrast to Petit Paradis, the new garden will actually be required to produce volumes of produce to feed the family, whereas here we are supplementing our food costs with garden produce and using garden space to also build up seed volumes and varieties in anticipation for the move.

I have also been keeping a watchful eye on what grows well and what produces. I have culled a few plants over the last few years simply because of their inability to produce or to produce well, or because they were just struggling and not really able to take off - and I didn't have the time or inclination to nurture them, so got rid of them to replace them with something that was working.

Over the years I have propagated bamboo so that eventually I can have an area set out to plant it so that I can utilise the canes for stakes in the garden. I also hope to use some extra seed produced in the garden for green manure crops and have managed to build up a few extra tamarilo plants and have extra babaco plants in the making along with a few carefully chosen and purchased fruit trees. I fully intend on creating pockets of food forests interspersed with blocks of vegetable gardening, fruit trees, compost bins, chicken spaces and eventually a bee hive or two.

In designing the new garden so that the needs of the system are satisfied from within the system I am aiming for an over abundance of produce so that we can also trade some produce, feed some of it back into the system to create a stronger, more resilient system and also, not have to have so many gaps in our harvesting (either in volume or availability) as I have had here due to time and space.

Over the next few months I imagine my ideas of thinking will change as I set to study more intensely some of the permaculture concepts that I look to apply - or to look over those I am unfamiliar with in an effort to see what might best apply to the site and produce the results I am looking for - an over abundance.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Australian Backyard Gardening Blogs & Websites

I did a post on other backyard gardening blogs some years ago and recently did a new search to find that we are growing in number.

As though it is not enough that folks are taking to claim the backyard as a piece of productive edible gardening space and a real place of interest, many are recording their journeys on-line, much as we are doing. This is heartening and inspiring.

Here is a more recent list of active sites for future reference. With the planning of the new garden and house(s) underway it will make checking out ideas and the experiences of others a little more handy.

Zucchini Island  an urban families quest to feed themselves from their backyard. Check out the inspiring story on Jason's "What is this about?" tab.

The Suburban Tomato - another great record of a suburban gardeners journey.

500m2 in Sydney - a long-term regular favourite I like to drop in on from time to time. A very classy, well put together blog that inspires me.

The Good Life Down Under - the continuing adventures of Margo & Jerry. Variety, so much variety!

Vegetable Vagabond - coming to us from Cygnet in Tasmania.

The New Good Life - another blog with a bit of variety and travel and urban adventures thrown in.

Dancing with Frogs -  if you have a Thermomix, which we are fortunate enough to and use several times a day, you may find this blog useful.

The Greening of Gavin - a pleasant journey into the very depths of backyard sustainability! Walking the talk.

Suburban Digs - the adventures of Michael & Mel.

Bees Hive -  I too, like Georgia aspire to keep bees when we move to our new house block, so in the meantime this is a great resource as we learn more about the world of bees.

And last of all the Sustainable, Simple, Slow Living Blog at Sustainable Suburbia.  Very much a short cut to the whole process where Kirsten has set up a Linky List of Sustainable bloggers. Though unfortunately it does not have recent activity on the blog you can still use the fantastic resource to find other great sites to inspire you. Click here for the list.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Mulch Pile

 With the recent removal of the trees from the other block the tree loppers had a load they needed to dump elsewhere before they could make a start on the rest of the block. So I asked for them to deliver it to our house so that I could mulch some of the garden.

It certainly went the distance at about 12 cubic metres a truck load it did the front yard, several bags, a couple of areas of the back garden and the chook yard - up to about a foot thick in some places.

As daunting as the initial pile was - particularly as it was perched on half of our driveway and was nearly covering the letterbox - previous experience has taught me that the effort is worth it.

A very large pile of mulch on Friday afternoon.

By Friday evening we could see the neighbour's house - nearly.

The new look chook yard with a large compost pile and Blue Banana Pumpkin.

This was a pleasure to do as it made the chook pen look a whole lot nicer than the previous ground cover of grass and weeds that had been put in there from weeding the Community Garden. As much as the chooks loved it, it soon wore down and the mulch still allows them to have a good scratch around while I have left areas of dirt for them to have their dust baths. I also want to see how it wears because I am thinking of utilising this deep litter method at the new garden.

By Saturday lunch I had the rest of the mulch moved with some much appreciated help from my Dad! The backyard smells wonderful with the woodchips of lilly pilly, pepper tree and peppermint tree.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Ringing Cedars of Russia - Dachniks and The Way Forward

Friends shared with us at our local Community Garden meet about a series of books they have been reading called the Ringing Cedars of Russia series.

The books sounded intriguing and so I looked into them and consequently opened up a new world to contemplate. I won't go into the series here as there is a heap of stuff that any search engine will happily deliver up for you. Instead I would like to focus on some of the ideas portrayed in the books and why they resonate with me. Mainly it is due to the fact that they are ideas or concepts I am already putting into practice. Perhaps further down the track I will go into some of the ideas I have taken from the books and what I have done with our own garden and family.

In the meantime, the books talk about home gardens or plots called Dachniks. For an interesting article, description and some impressive figures and stats check out this article.

This is very much my own experience in our backyard. This post from the EQ Journal has a few specifics as to why this style of gardening works well.

This is very much in line with the style of gardening that is seen as being the way ahead for developed countries as mentioned in Richard Mannings' book Against the Grain. I'm not sure what is lacking. It lies somewhere in the realms of being lazy, distracted by our culture and its social norms, following the herd, not being knowledgeable or fit enough to even start. . . there just isn't a compelling desire for most people. It almost seems ironic that the way ahead is actually the way back to previous small-scale farming and allotment style gardening.

It is clear that The Ringing Cedars of Russia series has stirred the desire in modern day Russians to compel them enough to go back to their Dachniks. Gradually it is inspiring people the world over to at least create a garden or a "Space of Love" wherever they can. This is what we have done here with our garden and plan to do with the new garden and house project.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Start of the New Tillellen Project

The trees are gone!

I met with the loppers Thursday to arrange how we can keep the bulk of the material on site. They seemed very accommodating which makes sense given that it won't need carting away.

It was sad to see them go after they have been there so long - they have left a huge space until we can begin the process of re-planting the area.

The upside I guess is that, as pretty as they are, most of them are not friendly to our native environment in that they seed easily and are spread by birds easily such as the Japanese Pepper (to the right in the photos). Others have not been looked after and would eventually  lead to problems with limbs falling, so as much as it will be a huge visual change to the block, it is a necessary part of the process. As it happened the guys showed me a photo taken from up the tree where a split had started to occur. So it really was a matter of time before it took out the neighbour's clothes-line!

I looked over the plans again to locate the best spot for the piling of mulch and logs - so that they won't be in the way of earthworks for the retaining walls or new house. In doing so I came to the realisation that the block is actually going to leave us with much less garden area than I previously thought given that the retaining wall will be moved further back into the block and the top house is further in from the back street to allow for the slope and drive-way.

Still, it is a bigger area than what we are currently growing on and is not so divided up. There are also smaller areas along the property line and where the house will be that can be planted out.

There was one truck load of mulch that needed removing from the block to make room for access to the block and I had this carted to our property here so that I can use it for the native garden out the front and to dress the chook yard for the summer to cover up the grass and clippings and weeds that I have thrown in there from cleaning up at the Community Garden. Any grass that I removed I have been putting into the chook yard as they do a fine job of making sure it is dead far quicker than the compost bins I use where it is just too resilient to die off quickly. Between the sun and the chooks endless scratchings and upheaval of soil the grass is dealt with much more efficiently I find.

So, well in advance of schedule the guys have cleared the block of trees in a day and a half! The land is literally swamped in sunlight so it will be a great spot for the new gardens and there are plenty of BIG logs to build the Hugelkultur beds that will be used to start the soil conditioning process and get an initial garden happening while the rest of the building, construction and renovating takes place. On the top of the block is the 5 truck loads worth of mulch that I was wanting to have on hand.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Summer Evening

I took a walk in the garden this afternoon after having spent the day away with family. It must have been a warm, sunny day because so many of the containers were getting dry or were very dry. I set about watering with grey water and ended up needing to spray with the hose to give everything a good finish.

The extra sun however has boosted the growth in the garden, including the weeds. This is fantastic as it means I can probably stagger my growing and seed collecting - that is, having two crops in the one season. As for the weeds, most of them will be harvested and either juiced, put into the chook yard or into the compost bins which I noticed have sunk down significantly today with the warmer weather.

I am happy to report that the beans and peas are doing really well and I will need to begin marking some of them for seed saving soon so that we can begin picking some for eating.

Red Aztec Corn with Popping Corn in the foreground

The last week the garden has had a huge growth spurt. Note the buckets for capturing the grey water.
The corn has been coming on strongly in the past week. I have planted out a mix of all the bits of corn I have. It is difficult to get many of the heirloom or open-pollinated varieties of corn here in WA so for the small amount of seeds I have managed to keep I decided to try and create something of my own open-pollinated corn variety. In case you are wondering, yes, this will be a long term project.

This is a mix of corn which is an experiment to see what comes of it all.

This chilacayote made numerous attempts to creep onto the path and has been turned back each time.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Bird Visitors to our Garden in 2013

A Bronze-wing Pigeon arrives of an afternoon to search for seeds.
 I wanted to put together a post of some of the birds that come into our garden. Mainly because I have found it to be of great benefit to have plenty of perching areas for birds to utilise. As a result I am seeing more and more bird activity as the many, varied perching opportunities give the birds access to hunting spots in the garden and greater safety from small raptors and intruding house cats.

During winter this Fan=tailed  Cuckoo made frequent visits over several mornings to our garden.

Red-capped Parrots are some of the larger birds to frequent the garden, particularly when sunflowers are ripening off.

Juvenile Western Silver-eye waiting for its parent to arrive with food.
Various types of weld mesh are in the garden and used for plant supports and as a happy result are excellent perches for smaller birds such as silver-eyes and flycatchers. Both of which help reduce pest insect numbers in the garden. At this time of the year it is a common sight to see small flocks of silver-eyes moving through the garden in quite obscure areas and making off with green caterpillars to feed their young, or perching on the wire mesh and thrashing their prey about wildly before flying off with it.

A juvenile Willy Wagtail that was seen recently one morning. A very welcome sign in the garden.


From two small seedlings I have managed to grow two rather elegant looking Babaco (Vasconcellea × heilbornii; syn. Carica pentagona). They grow so well in the garden and are simply planted into large 50 cm pots. This year I have decided to propagate them which means I am likely to miss out on the fruit for a while, but will end up with a small plantations worth of trees which has been the long term goal. 

I originally received them through the post from Diggers Club but have not seen them offered to Western Australia for some time since. I estimate these are probably close to five years of age.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Against The Grain

I came across this book at our local library and used it for some research for a seed saving talk I was doing. It gives an incredible insight into how we as a western society have evolved into the sophisticated, agriculturally-reliant countries around the world with some major disadvantages. Our health being one of them, but a whole host of issues raises it head from modern agricultural practices and this book brings them to the surface.

I guess to give a hint of what the book is about I could sum it up with the authors concept that we all advertise our ignorance to agriculture at least three times a day. That being the food we eat, the types of food we eat and the reasons for us actually eating it - they are far from our choice which is something I had never even considered. The reason being is that we are so detached from modern agricultural practices that we have no idea of some of the ways our food is handled and manipulated. 

Another point that Richard Manning portrays really well is that most of the major agricultural industries today grow and deal with commodities - NOT FOOD. When I really thought about this it triggered a whole heap of thoughts that bought me to the realisation that again, not all is what it seems.

At the end of the book Manning gives his own portrayal of how he sees we as a society need to be operating. It is largely a move back from an agricultural industry growing commodities to enterprising individuals and co-operatives growing food for local communities. Thus we can see the reason behind the popularity of today's farmer's markets, community gardens and backyard vege patches - there is a huge market in todays society for growing FOOD - not commodities such as rice, wheat and corn. If you suspect the wool has been pulled over your eyes then Manning's research and presentation of the material is intriguing and easy to read - and will showcase some of the ways we have been manipulated by big business.

For me it has confirmed my engagement with our own backyard food garden and the permaculture principles we use to create something quite unique in today's world - the place where the food on our table comes from.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


For the second year in a row we have a fine bunch of bananas coming along. The main risk for us here by the coast is the dry, strong winds that can sweep in over summer. As long as it is supported well, watered just enough and given kindly words we should see bananas around March.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Where will the kids play?

I have had to find alternatives to how I garden with having a toddler around. However, let me start from the beginning.

When we first moved here and I began to form plans for the garden, the kind of garden we would have for our kids someday was a consideration for a couple of seconds. The backyard was a couple of edged garden beds, a few square metres of lawn and four eucalypts along the back fence. Over time it has transformed into what it is today, but the question from many who looked at what was developing in the backyard was something based along the lines of "where will the kids play?"

My thoughts at the time were that food was going to be a priority and there was always a park down the road we could use. Isn't that what the park was there for?

I can currently say that I have not regretted getting rid of the lawn and our toddler is too involved with collecting chook eggs, feeding snails to the Koi, looking at bugs and picking strawberries or chasing butterflies to question me about where the swing is or even where a swing should be going.

The pond is a point of fascination in the garden and is childproofed (and cat proofed) by weld mesh and aquatic plants.

I think that now in - in retrospect - I can say we made the right decision. Our little one has a sandpit on the deck that he plays in from time to time and the rest of the time we get out and visit not just one park, but all the different ones in the area. So the garden has been able to fulfill its many roles of nourishing, educating and delighting our youngster.

This has, as you may imagine, created some challenges for me. How do you prevent a toddler that is so interested in the garden from picking unripe tomatoes or prized flower heads or immature berries? Let alone protecting prize plants whose main purpose is to provide a good crop of seeds for seed saving endeavors. I have come up with some solutions.

I guess its more barrier protection techniques really. Getting plants out of reach where they are going to be able to survive, but still be seen.

Pots of seedlings protected from small garden people. For big garden people to have access the white tub is removed - or stepped over, depending on their bigness.

So, here are some ideas that you may find beneficial for your garden and are also space-saving in their approach. I delight in something that is practical and multi-purpose, so here are some ideas to share.

Strawberries go aerial. This allows for me to keep the delectable berries easily reachable for me and out of reach of our toddler. He did try to stand in the containers underneath to reach the berries ( who wouldn't!) but a little talking to and a couple of smaller containers in front of them created an easy solution. The strawberries also get the sun they need and are well drained. In watering them I also end up watering the containers underneath, so it's also a time saver in some ways.

Strawberries get all the sun and attention from family members they could want.
Trellised barriers. I use these effectively to protect not just some of the plants growing in containers but also to start seeds in pots without them being interfered with. It also fits a lot of plants and seedlings in to an easily watered space which then becomes a micro-climate within itself.

Seed raising on the chicken coop. A bit inconvenient at this time of the year as the seed trays dry out very quickly but a good use of a space otherwise left bare. Plus a morning watering of the seed trays keeps the coop cool during hot days.

I also use hanging baskets to make use of 'air space' and these are well out of reach a little hands. I have two window boxes of bush beans hanging on the back garden bed entrance so that it deters our toddler from getting up onto the back bed. He seems to have lost interest. It helps having the chickens close by as a distraction too.

When it comes down to it I am prepared for surprises as our toddler finds ingenious methods which means I have to lift my game as well. I have had a few casualties and I grow a heap of cape gooseberries to keep him interested in also. These he can freely pick as he wishes, ripe or unripe. Sometimes he picks green ones to fed to the fish. I haven't lost any fish from this.

Summer Begins

Now and then I like to try different plants to see what comes of them. At the moment I have 3 containers and a small patch in the side garden that are home to lush little forests of buckwheat. Over the last few days with a bit of water and extra sun they have grown much taller and are really showing off their titanium white flowers.

Likewise, the beans that have been setting flowers have lovely little crops of beans already appearing and growing so quickly. These are a white climbing bean, much like my Pop used to grow. The bottom photo is of the corner garden area where I left things go a little crazy. At this time of the year through to autumn it jumps into jungle-mode, often revealing some surprises in autumn once it starts to thin out a bit. In this one area is a large chilacayote patch, a pumpkin, sugar cane, an avocado and tamarillo tree, a compost pile, worm farm, a choko vine and the bananas.

Purple-podded peas. This is the first year I have grown them and they are tall, strong and abundant with their colourful flowers and dark purple pods.  Below is the flower of the climbing bean variety shown above. In the last day or two I have noticed the zucchinis have begun to open their flowers and put on strong growth.

A New Start

As mentioned in a previous post, we are looking at making a transition to a newly renovated house and creating a new garden between the existing house and a new house on the back of the block. Our goal is to feed our growing family of four plus two grandparents with as much produce from the garden as possible.

The picture above is the block that we are starting to clear. It will one day become a new house for my In-Laws and a new garden that will be used to feed us all. It is a very peaceful spot. Lovely and shaded. Loved by birds and possums and loads of insects. This will all go. To do what we plan to do we need to remove all the trees that run down the fence line and are in the way of the future house. This means everything has to go for a new start. There is going to be a lot of wood and in keeping with my philosophy on this kind of thing I really don't want any of it to be leaving the block. Once cleared however, we will set about putting something just as magical in its place.

There is so much that either wood chips or small logs can offer that I really want everything to stay on the block as it will really get the garden off to a great start. This land is really close to the coast and the soil testing results show that it really is just sand. No large granite boulders or rocks hiding anywhere close to the surface. Great for building on and from previous experience it will have a huge appetite when it comes to organic matter. It will just swallow it up. For this reason I am keen to have some of the sand removed from the garden bed area for use further up the block - then focus on building soil through a few strategies I am keen to put into practice.

This is the first of what is likely to be many, many posts on our preparing for the transition to the new place and the decisions and choices we make along the way in the planning stages. In some ways it is probably going to mark a bit of a departure point for my blog records also as we make way to leave our small garden area for one with bigger possibilities, challenges and potential. So the current blog will slightly change from what it originally started out as, as a matter of natural progression.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Frost beans - looking plumper, larger and shinier than the original beans I received due to seed saving practices.

This year I am focusing my efforts on various bean types. Mainly to get used to how they grow, build up sufficient quantities for larger crops in the future and to keep producing quality stock. I also like how they grow and the various shapes and colours.

I'm growing bush beans and climbing beans along with some snow peas and Dutch Purple Podded peas which are nearly as tall as me at 6 foot.


Container Gardening

This is the first of a number of related posts where I am recording some of the techniques and ideas I have used in my own garden.

People are amazed at the 'intensive' nature of our garden. That is, at this time of the year through to the beginning of winter it is crowded with plants at various stages of their cycles. One of the main ways I manage this is with container gardening.

By growing our edibles in containers I have managed to solve several of our 'problems'.

  1. Through our mainly 'natural' diet we generate a lot of kitchen waste. The garden also creates a huge amount of green material that we cycle back through our system. Initially I set about digging much of this straight into the garden beds themselves. The chooks also got a good look in at selected stuff also. After a while I had the garden planted out and had nowhere to bury the ever-expanding green waste and kitchen scraps. This is when the garden evolved to its current container garden state. As I explain to people, think of these containers as mini worm farms that just happen to be planted out with vegetables, because that is basically what they are.
  2. I am well aware that many home gardeners prefer to rip up any bolting plants and start a new garden rather than allow plants to complete their cycle and collect the seeds for future crops. By growing in containers it permits us to retain some of our selected plants and enable them to go to seed so we have seed for the future with the traits we are seeking for our garden and our use. It doesn't tie up extra planting area and if the plant needs moving I can easily pick it up and move it to another spot in the garden where it is out of the way and can complete its cycle to produce seed.
  3. Water preservation and use is important where we live. I will concede that containers tend to use more water than the plants would require if planted in the earth, however in our situation we use our greywater which enables me to keep much of the garden (mainly the containers) well watered. I can also tailor the water usage per container if some plants are requiring more than others. This is part of the reason that small gardens like this are able to be so intensively used - we can spend more time observing the intimacies of what is occurring in the garden. Over time, the water retention of the containers is increased as the soil improves. There is very little tilling that occurs. It is more likely that a layer of compost will be added to the container to build up the level again and plant out seeds or seedlings into.
  4. Nutrients is better utilised and recycled. Whatever nutrients I add to the containers isn't easily flushed away, so it is more likely to be present and available when the plants have use for it. Periodically I may tip the soil out into another container to bulk up the soil a bit and start over with more scraps and dirt and a new family of compost worms.
  5. Container gardens leave smaller spaces bare. Sometimes between crops I will have a container left in fallow for a short time. Usually this is something like one or two containers among many, so rather than having a large area of ground left bare there may be only a couple of containers scattered amongst others. Visually, this a appealing and pleasing to the eye and makes the garden at joy to look at most times of the year in our climate. Periodically there may be times at the turn of the seasons when there are more containers starting over again, but usually they are not far from making themselves available for seedlings. This brings me to the next point.
  6. As with other intensive gardening methods I will also start seedlings in small pots or trays and then plant them out into the containers when ready. If this is managed in good time then there isn't much of a gap between an empty container and a productive one.
  7. Containers can be moved to different spots in the garden according to the needs of the plants it holds. I have banana plants in some containers that are developing and I can move these into sunny parts of the garden depending on the time of year to maximise their exposure to the sun and warmth. This is important for our climate because although it is temperate, some plants in our garden are sub-tropical and do benefit from a bit of special care.
  8. Our Babaco (paw paw hybrid) are planted into large containers which they prefer as they don't like to be too wet. So containers are ideal for such plants that require good drainage.
Tomatoes, lettuce and zucchini in various spots.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

November Update 2013

The last five months have kept us busy and distracted. So I have not posted any updates. Here is the latest.

We have taken on a big project which will eventually involve us re-locating and has had us taking into consideration the type of house we want to live in and the form and function of the garden. More on this later.

For now, the garden has been planted out since August with tomatoes, sunflowers, beans, lettuce, pumpkins, corn and much more. This is mainly so that I can get a large variety of fresh, new seed to see me through the next few years gardens and to increase the seed stock we have.

Another consideration is for our growing family. Now standing at two adults, an inquisitive toddler - not quite two and a small, loud newborn as of early November. There is plenty of salad greens growing for the summer to supplement our food intake.

I have had to really stack a lot of things into the garden in order to accommodate the various 'demands' on the garden. Some of these are:
  • Seed saving and growing out plants for new, viable seeds or greater seed supply
  • Growing plants for feeding the family
  • Propagating plants for getting ready to establish for the relocation
  • Seedling raising for planting out in the Seed Sanctuary at the Community Garden
  • Trialing new seeds to test for suitability and use. ie. Chia, buckwheat, chickpea, linseed (Some of these are being trialled for non-edible uses. For example insect attracting capabilites.)
More on this later also. In the meantime I will be logging posts that record some of the techniques I have found to be successful in the way that we use our garden.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Backyard Update July 2013

 Its been a while between posts. So many things to do and the garden was left to its own devices. The choko vines took over the backyard for a while and gave an abundance of fruit. Yesterday I got to spend a little bit of time out in the garden and decided to bandicoot around for some sweet potatoes. I was happy to find the above harvest which we had roasted for dinner and taste tested with a visiting friend.

This little jungle of tomatoes and cape gooseberries has been growing steadily through the cold winter temperatures and making the most of the bright sunny days we have been having. We have had a small harvest of cherry tomatoes over the last week. You can also see a few bean pods that are left to dry. These were planted in early autumn and gave a small harvest, most of which I have left for seed saving.

Our chooks began laying again about a month ago and are gifting us with an egg or two a day. The koi are growing well and looking really nice in their dark pond surroundings. We have been taking a small helping of salad greens from the garden each day. Enough to garnish or enhance a curry or a lunch salad.