Sunday, July 20, 2014

Snails and water ribbons

I was trying not to use any chemicals this year but it just isn't working. I didn't spray the earth mites and I lost all my beet and lettuce relatives, and the snail traps just aren't keeping up with the snails.

Look at all the snail damage on all my kohlrabi. I am trying to save up enough money to get some chook tractors built to try and get the pest problems under control but there is always more important things to spend the money on, and I am also worried about them eating all my beautiful frogs.
I went out this morning and put some relatively safe snail bait down just so I can have some veg to sell later. Sigh.

My experiment with growing water ribbons in containers has been a failure. The roots just get so matted that it is impossible to separate them to get at the tubers. And the tubers are small as a result.
This mat of roots is so solid that leaving them out in the rain for a couple of weeks has not made any difference. I thought the rain would wash the dirt from the roots and loosen it a bit.
I think I will just have to go out and pick some from the wild if I want some for myself.

Water ribbons is a common native water plant that produces small tubers that are edible raw or cooks. They are much better cooked though, but even then they don't have much taste.

I think that I will just have to grow muntries and pigface as my Australian natives as they seem to the best for commercial production. I will try again with murnong and maybe I will have better luck this year.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Brrrr, too cold to do much today

We may not be getting our usual frosts but it is still colder than I am comfortable with. Brrrr, I barely stepped out of the house today, just enough to do my inspection rounds and pull a few weeds. I am so glad I don't live in those cold parts of the world where you have ice and snow for months. It got up to around 10C today and that was cold enough for me, though I know that that would be warm in many parts in winter.

Many of my potatoes are still growing since we haven't had many frosts. I am a bit unused to seeing them green at this time of year.
I still have to dig some up though as it is time to supply seed potatoes.

 Surprisingly some of my shrubs are starting to show flower buds, this is my poor little lime tree - yes it is a bit yellow but all citrus get yellow at this time of year. They can't absorb their nutrients well in the cold.
I also noticed that my yellow cherry guava is popping out flower buds also. It fruits twice a year and that may be why it is hardly growing. I am toying with the idea of taking off all the flowers now so it can put more energy into growing this spring.

Talking of spring, it will be upon me pretty quick now so I am getting restless already. I bought a few packets of new seeds from my favourite seed company (Baker Creek Seeds) today and I am going to check out some of the others shortly. At lease with my new plans limiting what I grow this year I will not have to force myself not to go overboard with my buying, oh, but I do love getting packets of seeds in the mail.

Friday, July 18, 2014

It's getting very wet

Usually it is not this wet for another month but already some of my beds are under water and the rest are very boggy. I can't walk on some of the paths as I would sink up to my knees so I have to leave those whole areas alone to avoid pugging the ground.

 Luckily most years I don't lose too many plants to the wet except potatoes which seem to rot easily. The water is not actually still, it is moving through the ground which keeps it fresh so roots don't rot easily. It just looks like it is sitting stagnant in puddles.

I always worry about the garlic beds when it is this wet but they always seem to keep healthy and I have never had them rot. They are much more rot-resistant and water loving than people think.

Luckily I learn't my lesson with the potatoes two years ago and they are all planted in my driest beds. Everything else will just have to cope. I see that the snow peas aren't handling it well and I hope they live until spring as I lost the spare seeds so I need the plants in the ground to provide me with more.

I am about to start working on my website while I have time, and make a new wiki since it looks like my wiki describing to my customers how to grow and cook everything I grow has gone under.
I have also joined Pinterest today to have a play with it. Here is my page/profile as it is at the moment:

I'm not sure if it is useful but I will see if it is interesting enough to keep at it.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ok, I'm back

I am now back from visiting my sister and her family for a few days. Now ready to get back into it but I didn't have time to take any pics so you will have to wait till tomorrow for some.

While I was away and just before I was doing some research into growing garlic on a commercial scale. I spoke to a couple of growers, and someone who used to grow garlic and has now stopped.
It looks like garlic is still a good crop to grow but the returns are not quite as good as some growers suggest, it all depends on your marketing of course. I am still deciding whether to go for retail or wholesale but I will decide later.

The lady who stopped growing said it was only because of the high workload in growing it, especially the weeding. I think that I will plant it next autumn but not organically as I will have to spray the ground with round-up a couple of times before planting to keep the weeds down, that is the only way I will be able to grow it with the time and energy I have as just one person. I will also mulch between the rows.

I will write a longer post tomorrow. I have to go now to help my mother with our TV retune as she has lost her favourite channel.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I've been doing some thinking - wow that hurts

After taking my tax stuff into the accountant and shaking my head while doing the paperwork, I realise that I am going to have to make some changes to how I am doing things. I should be making more income than I am, at least coming even, which I am not, so I have been doing a lot of thinking over the past few days.

With such a small amount of land I have decided to concentrate on the veggies that pay for themselves and drop a lot of the others. I will still grow a range of unusual veg but not as much as I would like if I had more land.
I am going to concentrate on these vegetables:

Seed potatoes

I will also plant snow peas and broad beans between crops for the nitrogen. Although I love growing melons they will be mostly dropped because they are not cost effective on a small plot.

I am doing some research and may plant 1/2 an acre of garlic next autumn. I would like to do an acre but I doubt I will be able to afford the stock bulbs to start with. My brother-in-law will let me use half an acre of his land to try this on and I will pay him with part of the profits.
I am waiting for a couple of other small garlic growers to call me back tonight so I can quiz them on growing and markets.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Shade cloth and chook poo

Well I'm back from visiting my friends over Geelong way. I was so good to catch up, I don't think I have seen them for a year or more. I really miss talking to donkey people and seeing their donkeys. I really miss my own.

I spent three days over there and was going to do some driving about and camping in my van, but then I saw some chook poo in bags on the side of the road and had to have it. It was only $3.50 for a 20 kg bag - could you pass that up?

Well, that was the end of sleeping in the van so I came home early.

I managed to get off on Sunday as my rolls of shadecloth arrived on Saturday morning.
I got two 50m rolls but I suppose I should have got three. I still have plenty of time to buy and use more though. I just wish Farm Supplies would hurry up and get in my rolls of polypipe. I have been waiting for over two months.
Oh well, I still have a few beds with hoops over that I can use one of the shadecloth rolls on.

I spent some of today rolling out, measuring and cutting up one of the rolls but the other has to wait till I have the pipe. I might go and see them tomorrow and if my pipe is not in or ordered I will try another place.

This reminds me that I should also order a few more packets of water saving crystals.

It all makes up very expensive but once all the beds are covered and done up I won't have to spend much more at all.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Markets, swaps and nothing much else

After being harassed by my sister for not updating my blog I have to write something so here it is. Really, I haven't had a lot to do so I go out every morning and inspect all the blocks and spend an hour or so randomly pulling out weeds.
Last Sunday I went to the Nareen swap where afterwards we had a local lady speaking on her tour around Spain. We then had a lunch with heaps of food put on. It was a great day. She had stories of her career as a journalist as well as here farm where she not grows olives.

Here is one of the tables filling up as people come and place the stuff they have to swap. There was a good range of baked as well as fresh food, jams, sauces and empty bottles and egg cartons.

I came home with three packets of Rocky Road as well as some biscuits and eggs.

I started doing some digging today but with the rain bringing up all the worms to the topsoil I quickly had to stop as I was chopping too many of them up.
Oh well, with nothing much to do this time of year I am going to visit some friends over Geelong way for the next week (if my rolls of shadecloth arrive on Monday, otherwise I will have to chase them up as they are late) and then head north to visit my sister.