Saturday, October 11, 2014

Bamboo Success

I've had really good success with propagating the bamboo this year ready for the move to the New Garden. I cut up lengths of bamboo, stuffed the ends with vermi-compost and lay the bamboo sandwiched between two layers of compost. A little watering and then left under the house and only watered once or twice to keep it minimal.

This will assist in speeding up the growth and coverage of the bamboo grove at Tillellen. I've also be nurturing multiple plantings of camellia sinensis, honey locust, carob, avocados, lilly pillies and various ground covers.

Seedlings and Garden Fit-Out for the Summer @ Petit Paradis

The new garden bed being dealt whatever I could get my hands on. Kitchen scraps, horse manure, lawn clippings, newspapers, mulched green waste from a clean up at the other house, small twigs and logs, shredded office paper. Some shovel loads of dirt from the chook pen and all the large bits of material left in the chook pen after the winter that didn't break down. This was then hit with regular waterings of grey water, yellow water, cool drink, molasses, and seaweed concentrate. Topped off with horse manure. By the end of the day it had already sunk down nearly half a foot.

More use of the vertical space is planned for this summer. I've tried to still create a bit of space as last summer the garden got hit with mildew in late summer. It was a very humid little garden and the tomato plants made a real jungle of the place.

Some stuff hanging over from winter, some starting off, some fresh and new and just waiting for seedlings once things have settle down a little. This aspect will look quite different by late summer.

Small beginnings of various seedlings and left overs of the home-made seed raising mix. I need to make up a heap more as there is still a lot more I want to get planted. There will be a variety of plants for seed saving this year so it should make for an interesting event at some point. We'll see how we go. Things are busy with family at the moment so the garden is once again having to look after itself where possible.

The sweet potatoes are flourishing at the moment after looking a little sorry for themselves of the last few weeks. I have placed larger pots in the garden beds and will grow crops like sweet potatoes in amongst them. I really need the garden to be easy to water this summer as time is going to be an issue, I can see it already.

I have also had to spend a bit of time at Tillellen getting the lawns mowed and trimmed. Not a favourite task in so many ways and there is more to do. We are living with high expectations that we can hopefully get the new build started soon at at least the infrastructure for the New Garden started.

The back garden bed got some more horse manure additions today and I planned out where I will plant the corn and how I will water it. I still have chilli and pepper seeds to get started - and some room to find to plant them. I think for this year I will utilise the garden beds around the side for salad greens and allow the main garden to grow the tomatoes and chillies, corn and beans.

I have decided that we will wait for the move to Tillellen before getting quail and possibly guinea pigs. We already have our work and time cut out for us without adding more elements into the equation.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

October Update

With two very active, healthy young boys I have hit a major challenge recently. I don't have the time I feel I need to keep the garden ticking along as it should. Not one to give up easily I've had to make do with small bursts of action in the garden. Not easy when your tired. Let alone recording the challenges in a blog post. It's a good thing I can touch type!

As it happens I've also started to make a few structural changes to the garden and so I'm caught on the hop of sowing seeds, getting soil set up and having to do 5 things in order to achieve completing one.

The weather has also made a mockery of the situation. Not that I mind. The sun, rain, sun, rain, sun, rain routine is great for this time of the year so it's another indication that I'm still on the mark with getting stuff in the ground and sorted out. Five minutes ago we had thick grey cloud cover, no sun and heavy, heavy rain. Now it's overcast with broken sunlight and breezy. Again, its a matter of on, off, on, off coordination with everything else that is demanding of time.

Torrential down pour at 14:30. The garden is under reconstruction!
Twenty minutes later at 15:00 it's bright and sunny
It occurred to me today that farmers at least have the time to sow and harvest and do everything else in between. Backyard gardeners in comparison have to usually make the time in amongst a normally busy urban lifestyle. Sometimes, as I am finding, this is not fun. And not easy.

But I have to say that even just some time in the garden seems to be necessary occurrence these days - as some sort of spiritual grounding.

So, hitting the soil this week were:

Rattlesnake beans
Lazy Housewife beans
Cherokee Wax beans
and some Blue Lake from yesterdays Produce Swap.

There are Swaziland White Maize seedlings coming along in the hot house along with cucumbers, zucchinis and tomatoes. 

As I finish off this post it is 20:40 and it is raining quite heavily outside. A blocked gutter pipe is causing a waterfall cascading down the side of the house which will need looking at. Another thing to add to the list!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The First Cicada

Yesterday I heard the first cicada for the season. If I remember rightly I didn't hear the first one last year until about the 17th of October. Perhaps they are early this year due to the warmer weather. Regardless, it was a reminder that I've been a little bit behind my usual routine this Spring. Normally I've already had seeds in seed raising mix or planted out well and truly by now, but this year there have been too many other things tugging at time. So eventually there comes a moment when I know I just have to get the job done. This year I've made my own seed raising mix. Not quite a measured effort. 

Due to a small pair of helping hands eager to assist there were extra quantities added, so I ended up making a mix in much the same way I cook. Adding the ingredients until it feels and looks right. This years mix consisted of:
  • coconut coir
  • a blood and bone mix
  • garden lime
  • sand - heat treated time permitting
  • perlite
  • some fine vermicompost from the very bottom of the worm farm
These were mixed into a very friable, water absorbent mix and then used in various containers depending on the seeds and plants required. It is usually a mix of small paper pots which I hand fold, seed raising trays and segmented trays. These were all made up when time permitted to allow me to sow seeds into the trays or pots later in the night once I'd worked out what I wanted to get started right away.

Within days some of the brassicas were already up. The corn was following in a mad rush. I anticipate that soon the tomtoes will be screaming up. In the meantime I collect horse manure where and when I can and have piled this around the place in various assemblies of compost piles, topping off compost bins, putting into containers with some dynamic lifter to let it sit while the seedlings grow.

Planning for the summer garden is a balance of left and right brain thinking. There is a really rough plan and a lot of intuition and observation. To make things interesting its a blend of:
  • what are we going to want to eat this summer?
  • what seeds do I need fresh seed of?
  • what is the general weather conditions going to be?
  • what will do best in these weather conditions?
  • what plantings will make the garden different and interesting this year - for myself and visitors?
  • what plant group will I focus on?
My prediction for this summer is for it to be extra hot and quite windy. So this summer the grape vine will once again be trained up and over the deck to create a 'green room' out of the deck and break the winds down a little so its still nice to sit out there and enjoy it.

Winds and heat mean extra water is going to be required and so there is some extra preparation I still need to do to make the most of our water plus make it easy to water.

So far I have managed to plant corn, tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, various brassica, beetroot, beans, fennel and peas.