A week or so ago I began to sort through some of the soil from the chook pen and managed to extract a few decent wheelbarrow loads of soil which I used to pot up seedlings and the odd avocado seed or mango seed that I found along the way. This is the second time I have 'mined' the chicken yard to get soil to top up containers instead of purchasing potting mix and it works well and is already inoculated with micro-organisms, matured chicken manure and tiny, tiny immature compost worms. It's great stuff.
What happens of course is that along with whatever I am trying to grow in the pot, dozens of 'weed' plants also pop up. This did cause some despair at first until on careful observation I realised that the majority of them we can eat ourselves and the others are great feed for the chickens. So given that most of our plantings are in containers it is not such a big call to weed them out over time - especially when I am picking and thinning out for using in salads for lunch at work.
Something of an anomaly for us this year is the noticeable absence of Monarch butterflies. Only one has been sighted to my knowledge earlier in January. Ironically, of all years, I actually have a decent supply of milkweed for the caterpillars to feed on. On the upside however is that given the plants have not been eaten bare they have managed to set a decent bunch of seed pods which I will harvest for growing out a small forest of these plants to put to good use next season.
Last week I also managed to find some sweet potatoes in the garden. Normally I dig for these around autumn but with areas of the garden dying off and drying out I decided to hunt around. If there wasn't going to be a find of any sort then I would plan to plant out the garden earlier. This was the harvest I found in one area of barely a metre squared.
I thought that this year I would train the grape vine out into the garden to help reduce the impact of the easterlies in summer. I think it has worked but probably took energy from the plant which it would have put into fruit otherwise. Despite this, the vine was covered in more bunches than I have seen previous years, as though it has established itself after nearly five years and was tapping into some reliable water supply. Our boys got stuck into the bunches that the silver-eyes didn't get to and the rest were quickly harvested by my wife to dry out into delectable little currants.
This is a scene of the mid-summer jungle. Already plants are drying out and the garden is transitioning into an autumn looking garden as the vine leaves have turned colour in this last week quite quickly and are already falling from the vine, dried, brown or golden, and ready for the compost heap.