Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lazy days and watching the garden grow

Took a day off to be lazy today. Just did all the watering and melon pollinating then did stuff all for the rest of the day. Marie got a bit bored with me not telling her what to do so I got her to bag up some seeds to sell at the markets.
I did go out and up-end a pot of native water ribbons that I had let dry out and die down (Triglochin sp) to see how many tubers they had. I was a bit disappointed as I thought they would have at least a kilo but it was a fair bit under that. They were planted in a 66 litre container. I think this is the way to grow them but I will have to find some that produce better. As they are an un-domesticated plant I think I will be able to do that with some scrounging around in the river and local dams.
The tubers are sweet and nice to eat raw or cooked. It is a native food plant that might have some potential as a domesticated vegetable I think.

We are sort-of on top of the worst of the weeds, with our work, and mostly because of the dry weather stopping them from growing so it mainly the watering that has to be done regularly now. There is no rain forcast for the forseeable future so the seedlings need watering twice a day and the others every couple of days or so. I have been waiting for the new seeds that were put in about ten days ago to germinate but I have a feeling that my helpers might have planted them a bit too deeply. No worries, I will just replant.

I will have to go out tomorrow and take some pics to post before the day gets too hot. I never remember to take my camera out with me.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Melons growing and some sad news

I'll get the sad news over with first. A great friend of mine was killed last night when he had his donkey in harness and the donkey took fright tipping him out of the cart. A very sad loss to the Australian donkey world where he and his wife made a lifetime of difference and did more good than most people ever do. I have known them for many years. I will of course be taking some time off to go to the funeral when I hear when it is. I will miss you Hans.

Melons

The melons are starting to set well. Here is a picture of my melon patch as it is now. A big difference from the picture of a few posts ago.:


The first to ripen will be Blacktail Mountain watermelon and Emerald Gem melon. See how I am experimenting with rind scarring on the Emerald Gem. The Blacktail Mountains are so productive, they have heaps of fruit on them and are showing no signs of stopping.



I also picked my first cucumber and Marie and I have been busy digging new beds ready to put some seeds in tomorrow. I will put in some more carrots and some 'Tongue of Fire' beans, and I got some new cucumber seeds in the mail today so I might put a few of them in as it is not too late.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas cheer

It is a quiet Christmas this year with sisters and their family too far away to be here. We were lucky to have one of my sisters and her husband able to visit yesterday with their children. We have never had a Christmas day before with just my parents and me, it is so quiet today. We don't really celebrate Christmas as such but use the day to catch up and spend time with those we love.

The plants don't take the day off so I still had to pollinate the melons and do a heap of watering but I refused to do anything else, it can all wait an extra day. As I watered I saw that a lot of seeds were almost ready to pick which is great as when I take the plants out I can fill up with sowing more seeds that need to go in. I have a heap of seeds like celtuce, beetroot and carrots that need beds right now so they will be ready when the Hamilton market starts again.

I am having trouble with my new bed of amaranth. The seeds are so small that I am having trouble keeping the soil wet enough for them to germinate properly in the heat and I think the ants have carried away most of the seeds. Only a few plants have come up so I think I will try sowing them in a flat next time to see if that works better. I really want to push amaranth as it is so good that I want all my customers to try it.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Zucchini time again

Well, it is that time of year again - zucchinis coming out my ears. Lucky there are so many delicious recipes for them.

Here is Marie holding a basket of a few we picked this morning, 4 types.


Too bad they all start when there isn't any markets on, well, I could go to the Mt Gambier market to sell some but the cost isn't worth it unless I had a van full of produce. I think I will make some zucchini soup and some bread with them today - and the neighbours will get some I suppose, lol.

Luckily the front has come sooner than expected and we won't be having the boiling day that was expected. It is still about 30 or so degrees outside now but not the 38 that it would have been *whew*

The tomatoes are starting to set now so that will be another thing I will be over-run with. Lucky they will be ripening when the Hamilton market starts as I am not allowed to take them over the border to Mt Gambier. I love heritage tomatoes, they are soooo juicy and flavoursome. People who only know the rocks you get in the supermarket don't realise what they are missing.

We are still busy hand pollinating the melons evey morning

There are quite a few varieties that still haven't set any fruit but I hope they will soon. Some of the plants are still a bit small yet. Marie, and myself I admit, get all excited when we go out in the morning to see how much some of the set fruits have grown. My mouth is watering just thinking about them. Just a couple of weeks till the first is ripe I think.

Here is my favourite zucchini slice recipe (from www.taste.com.au) and so easy:


Ingredients
·         5 eggs
·         150g (1 cup) self-raising flour, sifted
·         375g zucchini, grated
·         1 large onion, finely chopped
·         200g rindless bacon, chopped
·         1 cup grated cheddar cheese
·         60ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil

Method
1.       Step 1
Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease and line a 30 x 20cm lamington pan.
2.       Step 2
Beat the eggs in a large bowl until combined. Add the flour and beat until smooth, then add zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese and oil and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared pan and bake in oven for 30 minutes or until cooked through.


I make this recipe all the time in the summer and always have a packet of bacon pieces in the freezer for it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

More weeding and not much else

Well Marie has settled into her new abode for the time she has left with us and we have been doing some tidying up around the place. We have been weeding a lot and harvesting seeds as well as planting more seeds to be ready for the Feb Hamilton market.

The melons are starting to set and it is great watching the little fruits grow each day. I hope some are ripe for Marie to taste before she goes. I have started taking a photo of one fruit each day from pollination to eating just for a bit of fun but I don't yet know how I am going to present it when it is finished. I might just do it as a series of pictures on my melon master site.

Not much more to say really.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Putting the shed/cabin up

The new shed come cabin arrived this afternoon and Marie and myself spent three hours getting it up. It is mostly finished now with just a few screws on the outside to put in tomorrow. I have added and bed and some bedding so Marie can sleep there tonight and I will put in power tomorrow for a light and fan, maybe a tv when I can afford it. Now I have a nice place for my Wwoofers and other helpers to stay in a bit more comfort and privacy.

It is tucked behind the water tanks for privacy, which doesn't make for good photographing but you can sort of see it.

It is a nice resin shed. It had want to be nice for the price, lol. When it came I didn't think it seemed very sturdy at all but after it is up it is quite strong. It is the Apollo 8x8ft shed which is just big enough for two camp beds and a cupboard, with a bit of shelving as well. It is cosy but still big enough to move around in.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Market and Kohlrabi

I didn't have much to sell at the market yesterday but Marie, Margoax and myself had a great time anyway. We sold almost everything and it was great to have some help as many customers always seem to come at once.
I took some kohlrabi, only a few but we still came home with a couple. It was difficult to convince customers that this very ugly vegetable is so delicious, and that is something coming from me who doesn't like eating anything from the cabbage family.
We just finished eating the ones that came home from the market. I prefer them peeled, sliced thin then eaten raw, or with a sprinkle of salt. Yum. Throw them in a salad for something different or make a kohlslaw with them. They can always be cooked like cabbage or turnip as well. I think they taste like a mix of cauliflower and broccoli.
Here is one that is cut in half before we ate it. The variety I grow is 'Giant White' which is still tender even when large. This one was nearly a kilo.



I have another bed of them germinating and I will plant some more after summer to sell in the winter.

Here is marie at the market behind our stall. Her sister Margaux will be leaving this afternoon to go back to France but Marie will stay on till the middle of January.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Root knot nematode

After watching my carrots trying to grow for months I finely pulled them up and found that their roots had lumps on them - Root Knot Nematode. If I had any prior experience with nematodes before I would have recognised it earlier but I have never had it before.
Root knot nematodes are a bugger of a pest as they attack so many vegetable crops so it is going to take a lot of work to control it. I have been doing some research today and have found a few things I can do, but it may mean not growing carrots or other very susceptable crops for a while.

I will start off with heaping manure on all my beds as I can afford it, then planting many beds with French marigolds, and planting the marigolds among my other crops as they are planted as well. I will also concentrate on the few nematode resistant crops on D block where the trouble is. It will take some money and work but if I don't do anything I will not be able to grow many crops at all in the future.

This is such a kick in the teeth but at least I now know why some of my veggies are not doing as well as they should. After spending some time today gathering produce for the market I am very disappointed at how little I have to sell. At least The melons are growing well and I will have a heap to sell at the next market.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Whew, what a busy week

I got back from Wagga with my sister on monday after going to watch her at her uni graduation. It was a long 10 hour drive back and we got here at 4am, in time to have two hours sleep before having to get up and start work.

My two volunteer helpers came on the bus yeasterday, they are Marie and Margaux from france. They are settling in well and, as the day is to hot to work outside, they are shelling dry rat-tails for seeds at the table as I write this. I am so happy they are here to help with some work around the farm.

I will be taking them to the Hamilton farmers market on saturday to give them a day out and they can lend a hand with selling. Of course, since I only have one passenger seat in my van, I have had to ask my parents to drive them to the market early in the morning.

I don't have a lot to take to the market but with some help I will be able to ramp up production so I can go to the Mt Gambier farmers market as well as the Hamilton one.

We are having a bit of a heat wave at the market and when it is over I will be busy planting a heap more seed.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hot days and update

The weather has been a bit hot today and yesterday so I haven't got much done besides some watering and pollinating the melons. It is good to have a rest but a bit boring, luckily I have an invitation from my sister to attend her university graduation so we will be driving early tomorrow morning and get home very late monday. We are going to Wagga which is probably around 1000 km then back. A lot of driving in two days but a bit of fun nonetheless.

My new accession of rat-tails has started bearing and the pods are a lot better than the ones I have been growing, a lot more tender. These ones came from bolivia and I will keep growing these, but I might cross them with my usual ones to get a bit more height in the plants and better production. I will have to plant some more when I get back from Wagga.

The Hamilton market is early in december so it doesn't clash with peoples Christmas celebrations. It is on next saturday and I hope I have enough produce to take. At least I will have plenty of lettuces.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My zucchinis are flowering well now

I put in 10 zucchini plants (Variety - Golden) for my CSA and markets and they are starting to flower and I wouldn't be surprised if I even have a couple of fruits ready for the Hamilton market on the 15th. There are so many yummy recipes that you can make with them - I make a zucchini slice which I love, a couple of weeks ago and a moist zucchini cake a couple of days ago with our home plants.



We have had a couple of cold and rainy days which the plants have loved so I haven't had to water :) and I picked the first of my amaranth leaved to taste this morning. I am not one for greens but amaranth is now one of y favourite vegetables. With just a quick steam and nothing else, no salt or butter, they were delicious. They taste like asparagus/silverbeet but without the silverbeet bitterness.

I went out and planted some more seeds in a fresh bed I prepared yeasterday as I think they will go over well with my customers.

YAY, With a few phone calls and emails I am now legal to take most of my produce into South Australia. I can't wait to have enough to sell at the markets over there.
I can take most root and leafy vegetables but I can't take over anything in the onion or tomato families. Luckily melons and their relations are fine.

Here is a picture of my test bed of yacon and oca. I have planted it to see if I can get oca to grow in the blocks as I don't have enough shade area for them.


I have the yacon on the western side to shade the oca from the afternoon sun as it grows, and I will drape the shadecloth over them on hot days. I don't think it will be enough though as the oca suffered a bit on the very hot days we had a bit over a week ago. I might make a hoop over them and add a heavier shadecloth.
I want to grow more oca for the markets but I can't without shade.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A few pics and a smile on my face

With a few cool days now I am feeling very good. All the veggies are powering along and the blocks are looking great, if a bit weedy. I have a woman from France coming over in a couple of weeks to help out till after Christmas. She is part of a group like Wwoofers called HelpX. I could really do with a hand so this is marvolous news. I just hope she doesn't change her mind between now and then.

Here is a picture of a few lettuces. I have two lettuce mixes that I love - 'Rocky top' from Baker Creek Seeds and 'Franks Crispy Mix' from Wild Garden Seeds. These are great mixes with a good range of interesting lettuces in them and the customers at the market love them.



The achocha (or caigua) below had a slow start but they are really taking off now and have a few flowers on them. These are a distant relative to melons and come from Peru.




I am excited to see that one of my seedling hardy kiwi is variegated so I have put it aside to plant out later. I hope it keeps its colouration, and is a girl. I will have to wait a couple of years to find out.




The zucchini and melons in my melon block are flowering now and growing strongly. If the weather holds up and is mild I should have a good harvest.





Saturday, December 1, 2012

Yay, internet is back

It is good to get back online but I have to admit that it really wasn't so bad not having it for over a week. There really wasn't anything really important in my inbox *sigh*

The melons are taking off now and crawling all over the place, and some are even starting to flowers - see more information on my melons at www.melonmaster.com     Shortly I will be incredibly busy with hand pollinating them.

Me beds are all covered with mulch and manure ready for the summer heat which is a load off my mind and it won't be long till the blocks are really putting out a lot of produce. Pity the markets close over January when all my melons start ripening. O well, I will have to find some other outlets. I might try to sell them on the side of the road at some of the small towns around here like Merino and Digby.

I sowed some hamburg parsley a couple of weeks ago and it still hasn't come up, I was really looking forward to growing it so I will buy some more seeds now. Of course, they will all come up then, lol.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

No phone or internet, damn

Well it has been a week since the fire in the phone exchange that put out all the phone and internet services in the whole western district of Victoria. I have just come over the border to South Australia to check my emails and get me internet fix. They say it could be another two weeks before it is on again.

Two nights ago we had a huge storm that thundered for about 5 hours and left us with a bonus of an inch of rain. To take advantage of it yesterday I bought in two large bales of pea straw and a couple of trailer loads of old horse manure to put on all the beds to keep the moisture in.
I'm glad the storm caem with rain as a week ago we had another small but dry storm that left us with some bad bushfires from lightening strikes. Luckily the fires didn't get into any farm land od come too close to town.

I am sore from spreading out the straw and manure all yesterday and will be back at it again this afternoon. I have to get it done today as we are in for a heat wave of 40 degrees C for the next few days. I hate the heat.

Anyway, my time on this public computer is up so I will post again when we have internet again at home.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Feels like summer already

Our first hot day for the season today. I didn't check but I guess it was over 30. I can't wait any longer for my mulch/manure supplier to arrive so I will put an ad for manure or rotten straw in the paper next week as well as Facebook. The ground is drying out fast and I need to get some organic matter on it.

A week or two ago I was posting about how I am letting my maca plants die off as they are awful to eat and won't flower - now a couple have decided to put out flower buds. I don't know if they are self-fertile but if they are I will have to decide whether to keep the seeds or not, hmmm, might as well.

The Hamilton market is this coming saturday and it loks like I might have some stuff to take, I will have bigger harvests every month from now on. I have a bed of beautiful, all colours of lettuces and I hope they go well. I just love looking at them as I water. They are all colours and leaf shapes.

I love lettuce, especially the different colours as they look so good on a plate. The spotty ones are so pretty. They have to be crunchy and sweet for me, I don't grow any with any bitterness as I don't like them but I am thinking of putting in some chickory and more celtuce for those who do like bitter vegetables. My new bed of celtuce didn't germinate so I am waiting for my flowering ones to set seed. It will be a while yet.
The celtuce went over so well at the market I took them too that I think I will offer it on a regular basis, once I get some seeds.

For those who don't know, celtuce is a type of lettuce grown for it's thick, juicy stems ratehr than the leaves which are a bit coarse. Even though it is thought of a 'bitter' vegetable, I don't find it very bitter. It has a very unusual taste that becomes quite addictive. The taste is hard to describe.
To use, you just peel the stems and chop into pieces before cooking or eating raw. I like it microwaved and eaten with dip ut when I get a few more growing I will do some cooking and make up some recipes for my customers.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Busy weekend and bad service at the National Hotel

Well I am back now from the 2 day orchard workshop in Coleraine. It was a bit different than my expectations as the lecturer mainly talked about growing vegetables rather than fruit trees. I didn't learn much but had a great time and got to meet some interesting people. The teacher, Rebecca Phyland was very generous with her time and knowledge and I am very glad I went. If you ever get to attend one of her workshops about permaculture and organic gardening it will be worth it, especially if you are a beginner.

The only downside of the weekend was the extremely poor customer service at the National hotel in Coleraine. I was a little early to order a meal so I was shocked when I asked and was told that I wasn't allowed to sit and read a book to wait till the kitchen was ready to take orders. The lady was rude and sour-faced and I will not ever go there again for a meal or room for the night. I ended up sleeping in my van.

Sure, they can run their hotel any way they please but the customer service was an embarrasment to not only the town but country pubs as well. If they want customers they should treat them as valuable assets. I wish they had an email address so I can complain to the manager. I might ring him/her tomorrow.

That is my rant over. I am back home now and tomorrow I will be back into the weeding and planting.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Damn starlings and orchard workshop weekend

I had babied my purple asparagus seeds till I got 8 little seedlings. A couple of days ago I planted them out into pots. Went out this morning and found that the starlings had pulled them all up and stolen them, probably for some nest building. I am so angry but I will have to buy some more seeds now. I am used to them pulling up my plant tags and leaving them everywhere but this is a new low. Oh well, nothing I can do now. Pity as they were so much slower to grow than my 'normal' varietey - which the starlings left alone of course.  *sigh*.

There is an orchard workshop happening in Coleraine tomorrow and sunday. I will go along to check it out and stay overnight in my van to save on petrol. I hope it is worth it. Aparantly we are learning about growing and looking after fruit trees tomorrow and doing some preserving on sunday. Should be fun.
I will let you know in a new post on sunday night.

Today I was busy doing some chipping (weeding with a hoe) and collecting snow pea seeds to resow. I also did a heap of watering as I won't be home for two days but I don't think it will be very hot. But you have to be careful just in case.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wow, another november frost

This is unheard of, we had another frost this morning, a bit stronger than the one a few days ago. It burn't some of my potatoes and tomatoes but didn't seem to do much damage to the melons. My little lotus seedlings got hit hard and I hope they recover quickly.

Did some more tomato and capsicum planting today, I am hoping they will grow a bit better now that they are in the ground. Can't wait to start harvesting some of the new varieties that I have planted this year. I got a mixed seed lot of a variety of heritage types and also planted some seeds of Hillbilly which I like and had seeds left over from last year.

My licorice plants are starting to move now. I think I have to start harvesting the roots next year. I will have to do some research I think.

I haven't heard of anyone I know growing licorice but it seems like such an interesting plant that I thought I should give it a go. The roots seem to have a lot of health benefits but you shouldn't eat too much.
I thought I had lost them as they took so long shooting after the winter but they are looking healthy now. I haven't given any thought to selling the roots but I supose I should look into how I will do that and if the roots will sell at all. It might appeal to people who make sweets and stuff, but I've heard that it also helps people stop smoking if they chew on the roots.

It seems easy to grow but I planted my licorice plants on D block because I have doubts about the plants ability to cope with winter waterlogging.

That's all the news I have today I think.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Late, late frost but no damage

Saturday morning I woke up to a light frost on the ground, never had one this late before. Anyway, I was quite worried about all my tomatoes, melons and other frost tender plants. Luckily there has just been a few tips burnt off and no serious damage.

Today was warm and I got my watering done early so I got stuck into some paperwork and computer work. A bit of a lazy day but you have to have one of those occasionally. So much work to do, but I just thought it is sunday so, stuff it. It will still be there tomorrow. Trouble is a girl is coming over tomorrow on the bus to learn a bit about trekking with donkeys so I will be out camping with her and my Chak for a couple of days. The lawn will have to wait I guess.

Nothing much else to report today, got some tomatoes planted, a couple of posts put in as supports for my American ground nuts and some more lettuces in yesterday, that is about all.

I will take some pics and make a longer post in a couple of days.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Check out my glorious lettuces and stuff

This cooler weather means that I can put off watering for another week or two, thankfully. It also means that the plants are not getting any water or heat stress so they are growing marvolously. My globe artichokes are three metres tall this year so I have to bend over the stems to reach them to pick. I had to stand back to take a picture of these, I have never grown them so big.


I have stumbled onto a fantastic mix of letuces called 'Franks crispy mix'. They come in so many colours and types that I can stand around all day just looking at them. My customers love them and I have just ordered a couple more packets to put in.


There are red, green, yellow, frilly, speckled and more. I bought the seeds from www.wildgardenseed.com as well as other interesting varieties of veggies that they come up with. You have to check in often as their varieties chop and change a bit.

Here is a picture of my little row of sugar beet that is flowering for the third time. The roots are so wrecked and split now that I think this is the last flowering. They have done so well.




My tomatoes and capsicums are not doing so well. I planted a heap out today even though they are still only a few cm tall just to see if getting them in the ground will get them growing better.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Water vegetables and natives

My water vegetables are starting to make a move now with the warmer weather. I planted out the last of my little lotus seedlings today. A couple were planted into pots, then into tubs as they will be transfered to my friends dam soon when they have a few bigger leaves.

The water chestnuts are finely growing well. I lost a couple for no reason I can think of but I am hoping for good harvests from my 60 litre tubs that they are in. I have 8 tubs of them and will get more if they do well. I will know in winter if they are worth going ahead with.



And here are some of my native water ribbons that are flowering. They produce slightly sweet, crunchy tubers. I only have two tubs of them but I think I will make more. They produce up to 50 walnut sized or bigger tubers each. I will have to think up some recipes and try them out.



I am growing quite a few Australian natives, the ones that look like they could be worth growing as vegetables anyway. I have water ribbons, murnong, native pepper, native raspberries and pale vanilla lily. I don't have many of each of them as I need to judge how they will go in a market garden situation but they are all growing happily at the moment.
I don't hold out much hope for the native raspberries as they don't fruit well and the fruit is a bit insipid - just how 'normal' garden raspberries would have been before people started selecting for bigger and better fruit. I'm not sure they are really worth breeding for better fruit though. Anyway, I have a few in pots for people who want to try them in their gardens, and they are flowering now.

I am impatient to try some of my natives and I think the murnong and vanilla lillies are getting big enough to take a couple of tubers to taste. I must get a few more native peppers. They are a fantastic spice but I have not been able to germinate them from seed. I think I will buy some plants instead but I am having trouble finding a supplier. I only have one plant at the moment and it is a female. They leaves are good to use but I would like to try the berries, but I will have to find a male plant for that.

There are a few other natives that might make vegetables and I will test a few next year.



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why can't they make a good garden hoe?

Went to town today to buy a few things for the garden - hoses, hose joiners, soilwetter and a hoe. All the hoes they had in Bunnings were so light I doubt you can get a weed out with them. I ended up buying a small pick/mattock head and a handle to put it on. It is cast iron and weighty enough to do some good work. Will put it together tomorrow and see how it goes.

This afternoon I planted out some more American ground nuts into their bed. We don't have any choice in varieties in Australia so I can only hope that these ones produce good tubers. I have been reading great things about this plant so I can wait to taste them in the winter. I have 8 plants so I won't have any tubers to sell but I think they will build up quickly. I think this perennial legumous plant would be a great permiculture plant.

Here is a bit more about them:

American ground nuts (Apios americana) is a willowy vine that produces small, starchy tubers in the autumn/winter. They used to be a staple in the diets of American indians. It is pretty high in protein and very easy to grow.

The tubers take a couple of years to gain a good size but they can be nibbled after one year. They are usually fried, roasted with maple syrup or boiled, with a nutty taste in some descriptions, or tasting like potatoes in others. Aparantly the skin comes off easy after cooking so the tedious task of peeling them is not so bad.

The only down side to these tubers is that there are rumours that some people get sick after eating them, not the first time but after more meals of them, as if they had to build up a certain level of some chemical that they contain before reacting. I will find out about this next year I think.

Other than planting the ground nuts and going to the Mount I didn't get much done today. I hear a bit of rain on the roof and am happy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pulling up the salsify

I have gathered more than enough seed from my flowering salsify so I pulled up the plants today. The last thing I need is for them to be self-seeding all through the beds, I get that enough with the carrots, lol. I found that the plants with a single stem had the best roots - in other words, the more forked the plant the more forked the roots. This gives me a plan to choose the best plants to gather seed from next time.
I realised that I planted my new bed of salsify at teh wrong time of the year, they are supposed to go in at autumn. Oh well, they are germinating strongly so I will leave them alone and see how they go.

Apart from the never ending weeding, today I decided to pull up the beds of onions that didn't grow well enough as I saw that a few had started putting up flower stems. I have decided not to grow any more onions as I can rarely get them growing well, and the heirloom ones are not so good that customers will pay more for them than in the supermarket. They take so long to mature as well. They are just not worth it.

I will concentrate on shorter rotation vegetables that will actually pay for themselves. I put in a couple more small beds of snow peas, at least these sell well, as well as fertilising the beds. On a side note, I grew a row of parsnips in the same bed as snow peas and they are turning out better than I have ever grown them. By that I mean they are straighter and faster. I would have thought that the extra nitrogen would have made them fork more but it is the opposite. Just goes to show that you have to question conventional wisdom and do your own experimenting.
The snow peas did almost smother them but they grew up through them. I think I will grow them together more often now. I will take a picture of these parsnips at the end of the month when I pull them for the market.



Monday, November 5, 2012

Root crops taking off

With the warmer weather my Andean and Chinese root crops are really taking off.

The yacon and chinese artichokes are bigger than they were at the same time last year but the oca is a bit slower. The maca just won't die. I just can't prepare or cook the maca in any way that gets rid of the bitterness so I won't grow any more. I keep thinking my little row will die when they die down with the warmer weather but it keep popping back up in the autumn. Lucky it doesn't flower here or I might have seedlings everywhere, at least that would give me incentive to throw them out, lol.

The new chinese yams are just starting to lengthen. They have been a bit slow and won't be ready to dig for a couple of years but I am looking forward to that. I have them in raised beds so it will be easier to dig the long roots.

When I was taking the Chinese artichokes and oca out of their pots in the winter to replant I must have reused the soil (I store them in damp soil in pots till I am ready to plant them) and I have them coming up in heaps of my potted plants. That is going to be a nuisance later so I will go out tomorrow and try to get them out. The Chinese artichoke can be such a weed that I am annoyed at myself for letting this happen.

After doing some fertilising I have finelly found a way of killing off the Chinese artichokes that get out of hand, just give them too much fertiliser. It might not totally kill them though but it certainly killed off the tops of a few. I will keep an eye on them.

Other happenings - I just planted another bed of salsify. I wanted to put in some scorzonera but I didn't have any seed and the ones in the ground are not showing any sign of flowering - so I had to get on ebay and buy some more seed. Damn Ebay, it is so addictive. At least I was able to control myself today, lol.

Anyway, after some serious begging I managed to get one load of manure yesterday so I spent this morning spreading it on my beds. I am worried that I won't get any more in time to do the other beds before the soil starts to dry out. Well, I can't do much about it, he is so busy that I was lucky to get even one load. Gee, things grow well in it, and the worms love it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bit of rain, bit of cold,and alpine strawberries

Spent most of the day inside, wasting my time on Stumble. The day was too yukky to do anything but check on my melons and sow some snake been seeds. It wasn't particularly cold and wet (only 8ml of rain) but I needed a break and didn't feel like going out and working in it.

I applied to become a Wwoof host any they will be finalising my application in a couple of weeks. Apparantly they are busy getting the latest Wwoofer book printed so I just missed out. It will be good to have a bit of help around the place occassionally, and have people to teach if they want. Looking forward to it.

Edible plant of the day is Alpine Strawberries.

These are cute strawberry plants that love to live in shaded areas, where not a lot of other foods grow. I have some in the shadehouse and a few in the shade of some tall growing sorghum plants.

They grow into clumping plants that don't produce runners which keeps them in check. They spread a bit from self-seeding but are not a bother. The tiny fruits are delicious, especially the white varieties. Kids have a ball picking the fruits and very few make it into the house, though I hear they make the mos delectable jam.


Another great thing about these wonderful plants is that they bear fruit for most of the year. As long as you keep them shaded and moist, they will delight you all year round. I love checking for ripe fruits as I wander through the garden.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Close to organic, and Coloured carrots

I was digging some new beds where my potatoes got wet this winter and rotted away :(    and realised that my back block did not have to be treated for snails or red-legged earth mite this year, and I am almost on top of the grass and weeds, well enough that I can cope with weeding it by hand at any rate. It has had its last spray of round up and I don't need to add any more chemicals to it, hopefully ever. If I continue with no chemicals I can officially mark it 'Organic' in 5 years. I won't get certified though as it costs too much and I don't want to add to the cost of my vegetables to my customers.

It feels good to have one of my blocks chemical free and clean, and I hope my D block will be at this stage as well in a few months *claps*.

Anyway, to my vegetable of the day, carrots, particularly coloured carrots.

Carrots

People are so used to orange carrots in the shops that they don't realise that they come in many colours. I grow red, orange, yellow, purple and white carrots which people love at the markets. In fact orange carrots are relatively new on the market, they were originally purple where they were first grown in the middle east.

All the colours taste similar but the white ones are very mild, great for children and eating raw. Coloured carrots look great in a salad and contain heaps of antioxidents and nutrients from the chemicals which cause the different colours.

Carrots are easy to grow, especially if your soil is light and sandy. You have to remember to sow the carrot seed very shallowly and keep them moist till they germinate.

Carrots can be cooked in a huge number of recipes from salads to cakes and you can find thousands of recipes for them with a quick search on the net.

To find out just about everything there is is to know about carrots I recommend this website:  http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/  The make of this site has done a great job and I go there often for a look.



Saturday, October 27, 2012

More vegetable happenings and mangel wurzel

Today I took my stuff to the Hamilton Farmers Market again and sold out again. Not a surprise since I didn't have much to sell - I had to take some plants to make up the stall. At least this has taught me to plan better for the spring next time. At least I broke even again this month, for the second time. I am really starting to believe that it won't be long before I am making a profit so I am feeling very upbeat. I just have to pick up my production.

The best thing about the market is that people are starting to ask for unusual things. I love that Hamilton people are so adventurous in their eating. My water chestnuts are taking off, and I have germinated my first lotus plants. If they grow well I will put in a lot more next spring.

I popped in to see the chef at a local restaurant to see if he will be interested in buying some of my produce. It is a small chain so I don't know if he has any say in what is bought but it doesn't hurt to ask. I think I ballsed it up for two reasons, It was lunch time so I knew he didn't have much time to talk to me, and I wasn't expecting him to be able to see me straight away so I didn't really know what to say. Anyway... I just babbled something about who I am and what I have and shoved a couple of business cards at him. I don't think I appeared very professional. Oh well, if he doesn't get in touch it is another lesson learned.

I also let myself down by not remembering to take a copy of the list of produce and prices I gave him so if he does call I will be embarrassed to have to ask for a copy of what I gave him.

Well things are looking up and I hope I break even or more every month from now on.

OK now. to make my blog more interesting I am going to profile a different vegetable or fruit each time. Today it is Mangelwurzel because, well, it just popped into my head and it always attracts a lot of attention at the market.

MANGELWURZEL

This is a large, hairy beetroot. In most countries it is grow for stock feed, but in those countries pumpkin is also often grown only for stock feed. It is a great vegetable but most people only think of it in its pickled and canned form, and even those who grow it don't usually realise how versatile it is.

Mangels come in red and white/gold varieties, but all of them have white flesh - great for messy eaters like me, lol. They are sweet like 'normal' beetroot but grow quite a lot bigger without going woody. They have one or two grooves down the side which are full of hairy roots ( let's call it a beard) which can make them a bit harder to peel neatly.

They can, of course, be pickled like most people know beetroot but they can also be cooked in many other ways - baked, chopped and steamed, grated, mashed, even made into cakes and muffins (Google chocolate and beetroot cake) and curries. Use them instead of 'normal' beetroot in any beetroot recipes. I like them boiled till soft like any other cooked vegetable like cauliflower or pumpkin, then served with a drizzle of butter or garlic butter.

You can steam and eat the leaves but I find them a bit coarse, I prefer sugar beet leaves when I feel like beet greens.


I sold the last of my eating mangels today at the market and have a bed of seeds in and a row of plants to collect new seeds from as they are starting to bolt. I should have more for the market in four or so months.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Seeds and dirt, never ends

Sowed a heap of new seeds in the beds today. I really wanted to wait for the manure to arrive but the seeds have to go in as well. I was expecting the sheep poo to arrive last week and if it doesn't come soon I will have to chase it up. Some of the beds are drying out badly now with the warmer weather and really need the mulch.

The seedling tomatoes are coming along sooooo slowly. They have had a bit of foliar fertiliser but they still don't want to grow. I am very impatient to get them in the ground. Their beds are waiting and looking very bare, I am itching to get them planted - I hate the look of bare beds.

The melons and pumpkins up popping up everywhere now and I can see where I will have to replant because of the snails. I always get so excited this time of year when I thing of the harvest.

Here is what two of the blocks look like right now. Part of the back block is on the left and D block on the right. They look a bit bare with all the spring seedlings still so little. Will take pics of the other blocks soon.













The Hamilton market is on Saturday and I just hope I have enough stuff to make the stall even a little bit interesting. I think I will have to take some plants as well as produce.

In the CSA boxes for friday I should have some onions, perennial leeks, mangel wurzel, oranges, lettuce, cabbage and dwarf bok choy.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Damn red-legged earth mites again

Yes, I know I should have expected them, they come to decimate the seedlings every year at this time, but I always forget in the hope that if I don't think about them they will not appear this year.

Luckily I saw the dreaded red-legged earth mite on my melon seedlings quickly this year. They can destroy any small plants within a couple of days, and I didn't see any yesterday. I immediately got out the spray and fixed the problem. I hate to use a miticide but there is no organic way of getting rid of them otherwise except for getting rid of their main host plant - clover. Even getting rid of the clover only cuts their numbers in half, still enough to kill every seedling.

At least I only have to do one spray usually to be rid of them for the rest of the year.

Other news - I went to the Casterton garden club today. After the meeting we went to look at two members gardens in Henty. They were beautiful, and weed free, putting my efforts to shame.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

More wildlife in the beds

Got out to block D this morning and found a couple of baby bunnies in there under the cabbages. They were obviously a cross between a wild rabbit and an escaped pet dwarf, very cute but I really can't have rabbits in among my veggies.

I caught them and took them to a neighbours yard where they have lots of long grass, no vegetables and no dog. Yeah I know, they will be a future problem but I just can't bring myself to kill things by hand any more. I can't even stomp on snails and have to use traps and bait.

My melons and pumpkins are popping up and being eaten off so I had to go to the shop to get some snail bait. I prefer to use Multiguard because it is non-toxic to the soil and other animals but no-one here in town sell it so I had to get a toxic one. I will pick up some Multiguard later when I get over to Hamilton or the Mount.
Anyway... I put some bait around all my melons and pumpkins last night and this morning I got a shock at just how many snails and slags are about. I got a good kill but I am worried about how many plants have been eaten. I'm glad I planted some extras in tubes just in case as I think I will have to do a lot of replacing.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Melons and pumpkins germinating

I went away to visit my sisters in Murray Bridge for a few days before it got to hot to leave the veggies and when I got back a couple of hours ago I was happy to see that some of my pumpkins and melons have started germinating. The cold nights lately delayed the germination which is why it has taken nearly three weeks for them to come up.

I expect that the warm weather over the next few days will start them all going. Now I just have to save as many as I can from the snails and blackbirds, sigh.

I think I have all my summer vegetables planned out and just waiting for the tomatoes and capsicums to get a bit bigger to plant them out to their places in the blocks.

I have decided that nearly all my potatoes were drowned and rotted in the wet and I have lost them all, luckily I kept a tuber or two from each variety and planted them in my D block down the back. I won't be able to put any in the CSA boxes before christmas but at least I can start again from scratch. I was so looking forward to offering unusual potatoes to my customers.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Warm weather and Weeding

Well, I think(hope) that last night was the coldest and from now on they will start warming up. Today was beautiful so I got stuck into some weeding and a bit of moving pots around. I was so nice sitting in the sun pulling weeds. Everything is starting to show some growth.

I'm sure my melons will be poking their heads up soon and I am looking forward to getting them going. I have already planted out the Achocha at my little old hothouse frame so it won't take long to cover that. I just hope the fruits go well at market.

My asparagus spears are so thick this year. I'm so glad I went with Argenteuil as it has been the best variety I have ever grown.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What's in the box this time

With a couple of nasty, cold and wet days I haven't got much done so I went into town, and of course that is where the temptation is. I bought a new pull cart to gather my harvest with as well as some seed and plants. Also got to spend some time with friends. It was a nice rest but I will be back to work soon as the weather begins to warm. The days have started to warm up but the nights are still very cold.

It is a really bad month with everything that came over the winter gone to seed and the new stuff still way off harvesting. The boxes will be a bit bare but what I do have to harvest is:

Onions
Celery
Asparagus
Silver beet
Parsley
Snow peas
Rat-tails
Garlic
Lettuce

I might be able to throw in a few oranges bought from elsewhere just for something different as well.

I have gone around and counted the species and varieties of cucurbits that I have got in this year. I have 51 melons, 7 gourds, 5 cucumbers and 11 pumpkins and squash. It is going to keep me very busy when they start flowering as I have to hand pollinate for seed keeping.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Wildlife fun and games

Walked around to me P block this morning and just as I got there I found a black wallaby in there. It had not eaten anything that I could see but had stomped all over the seedling beds and made a real mess. I chased it out but instead of going back to where it came from it jumped off the other way into town. Oh well, I hope it makes its way back to its home tonight another way and not back into my veggies.

At least wallabies live alone, I would hate to go out one morning and see a whole herd of kangaroos in there.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Markets, soil and other odd bits

I went to the local small market in Coleraine today. There wasn't many people about but I still sold a few plants, at least I didn't make a loss after my costs. I met a couple of lovely people there who were very interested in growing unusual food plants so I am very happy with that.

On another note, I am very happy with the way my soil has improved over the past 6 months to a year, especially where I have added my sheep poo and straw mix. There are heaps of worms and other soil organisms and plants are doing noticably better. After turning over a few beds ready for replanting I have noticed that they have turned from sand to loamy sand. If I can continue to improve it one step each year I will be ecstatic. In another year I hope it has turned to sandy loam, then later to loam. I have ordered another $100 of the poo/straw mix which should be delivered in the next week.

My rat-tail radish seed pods maturing so I can harvest seeds.


I will be sowing some grain amaranth seed tomorrow and think of something to put in the other empty beds. I am lucky I didn't sow my melon seeds any earlier as they would then be starting to pop up now, and I hear that there will be a few frosts this week. I hope it doesn't damage the seeds.

Spent a bit of time on Ebay yesterday (slaps own hand) I bought some more seeds and a vanilla lily. I overwatered my ahippa and jicama seeds in the cold so they rotted. I have just bought some more. My achacha seedlings are waiting impatiently to go into the ground but I can't put them out now until these frosts are over.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Starting to come together

Well all my melons and pumpkins are in and I am even starting to get on top of the weeds a bit. It is amazing what a few nice days and starting work at 6am will achieve. There are going to be a few very cold nights over the next week so I won't ecpect my cucurbit seeds to start coming up for at least ten days. I do have some achocha seeds up though that I grew in a pot in the hothouse. These are another new vegetable that I will be trying out.

Put in some more rat-tail radish seeds this morning as they went so well at the market. Also planted a few lettuces and gathered some dwarf bok choi seeds. My lists are getting done each day which makes me very happy. I must get some more snow pea seeds tomorrow.

Got the Coleraine market on Sunday and I will take some potted plants along.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Melons, melons, melons

Well, it is the first week in October, time to plant all my melons and pumpkin seeds. It is going to take a few days to get all 50 or so varieties in my melon paddock but I will get there.

No particular theme this year, there are melons from all over the world - plenty of new ones I haven't grown before as well as some favourites from last summer. I just hope my season is better than the last one. Last year was so hot and dry that most of the plants aborted their female flowers so I got a pitiful harvest. I hope I get enough melons this year to stage a melon tasting weekend.

I have joined www.farmhousedirect.com.au which allows people to buy fresh produce directly from farmers. It will take a month to get my shopfront there up and running because I am not producing much right now but I hope this becomes a useful resource. It is a great idea. I might start off selling some dried gourds and food plants on there first until my vegetables get going.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Good news and bad

Took my produce to the Hamilton Farmers Market again today and sold out before 10am again. Not too surprising since I didn't have a lot but it was good just the same. I loved the way people were quick to try and buy my more unusual stuff. I took rat-tail radish pods and celtuce and had some tastings of them. They were quickly bought up.

If this goes on I will have to have an assistant to help with the selling. it is really hard to keep up when customers five deep are all trying to hand you money so they don't miss out on what they want. In a few months when my beds are really producing it will be hectic at the market.

Now the bad news... while I was at the market we got some strong wind here, as we do in spring, but it totally destroyed the poor polyhouse that was already feeling a bit worse for wear. It was not really surprising but I wish it had held on a couple of weeks longer. Oh well, time to get a new plastic skin.

I hope we don't get any frosts from now on (a bit optimistic I know) or I might lose all the tender seedlings I have in there. I have a couple of naranjilla seedlings that have been trying to die on me for months. I have been coaxing them along but a bit of cold might push them over.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Early ladybirds

I have noticed over the last couple of days that there are ladybirds on some of my veggies. They are weeks ahead of schedule. Usually they come well after the aphids start decimating the shoots of the plants but aphids are only just appearing now.
I don't know if this is a good or bad omen. Anyway, I love seeing them in the garden and I will enjoy them as long as they stay around.

Went to the Casterton Garden Club meeting today. We had our meeting and then walked around a couple of local gardens. Everyones gardens are looking so good at the moment, better than my weed infested blocks, lol.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Pooh, do I stink

Well, the man who supplies my sheep poo can't get in to load it up as it is too wet so I bought some bags of chook poo instead. I've been spreading out on some just dug beds and boy, does it (and me) stink. Must be good stuff, lol.

In other news, I have put in all my tomato, eggplant and pepper seeds, I just couldn't control my impatience any longer. I just have to pray that our poor, ripped polyhouse lasts a few more weeks. The days are getting warmer now so I will be getting my melons and pumpkins in soon too.

I was looking carefully around the blocks today and noticed that the kale is bolting so I am not going to have much at all for the market next week. I think I will have to take some plants and my gourds.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Spring weather and exhaustion

With the beautiful weather I was up and out early at 7am to start digging beds and weeding. Now I have about 7 beds ready but not many seeds to put in. It is another 2 weeks till the last of the heavy frosts but we usually get a couple of light ones in october. I am itching to get in my tomatoes, melons and pumpkins. I dug a heap of holes for them and filled them with old rotted manure to start.

I keep flicking through my seed packets, just waiting to get them in. I have so many types of everything for this season that my CSA and market customers will be amazed.

Lucky it is the end of the cold weather as the polyhouse plastic is on its last legs, it is torn in so many places. I will get new plastic in a few months to replace it. I am disappointed at the quality of this lot as it has split at all the seams.

A couple of days ago I harvested my first celtuce. I have never grown it before. I ate some raw and cooked some just to see if it was worth keeping as a crop and putting more in. It was a lot less bitter than I had come to believe and had quite a pleasant taste, especially raw, with just a hint of bitterness but not overpowering. This says a lot to someone like me who hates anything bitter. I think I will continue to put some in, even if it is just to have something different to sell.
I wouldn't say it is worth it in time to reward ratio because it is a nuisance to prepare but it is interesting.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Another day another job

Got a heap of potting done today - potted up some seedling hardy kiwifruits, collected some water ribbon plants and sowed some rhubarb seeds. Not a huge amount of work but I am tired today for some reason. I think I just need to have a day off.

I have a heap of self sown 'Brighton Rock' snapdragons coming up so I will have a great show during the summer. These snap dragons are an old variety with pretty spotted and striped flowers. I think I will put some in punnets to sell. I think they are marvelous.

Picked a heap of rat-tail radish pods for yesterdays veggie boxes and to cook tonight.

I just steamed them and stirred some butter in but I think they would be better stir-fried. I picked them all small but the ends of the tails were still a bit fibrous. I think they need to be tailed before cooking. I might try to breed a variety that doesn't have this problem perhaps. I find them fascinating.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What's in the veggie box this week

The weather has been fine so I have been getting a lot of work done. Heaps of weeding and some seed sowing, and a bit of repotting as well. I am feeling good.

Got some native food plant seeds in the mail so I have sown them in trays. I am already impatient for them to come up. Planted some flower seeds too for colour and to attract bees - it is going to look very interesting with all the flowers among the veg.

In the veggie boxes going out tomorrow there is not as much as I had hoped because a lot of plants have bolted to seed and I am busy digging them up to put in new crops but here is what you will get:

Doz free range eggs from my sisters well-loved hens
Punnet of rat-tail radish pods - first of the season
Celery
Red onions
Cauliflower - last of the season
Mini red cabbage
Napini
Punnet of snow peas
Carrots - yes, more carrots, hope you are not getting sick of them, I will give a couple of recipes.
Bag of beet greens
Silverbeet

I have noticed an explosion of worms where I have been laying down sheep poo mixed with straw. It is great. I hoped that the heavy doses of Round-up I had to spray to get the couch under control would not harm the worms but it seems as though my fears were unfounded. Most of the blocks grass is hand controllable now so I can stop spraying and just do everything by hand. Very happy about that.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Meets, greets and good work

Had a great day today. I went to a sort of forum thing in Merino where we got lots of ideas for getting food growing ideas into the community. The henty garden club is going to discuss getting a community produce swap going once a month which will be exciting.

That took up most of my working day but when I got home I found a couple packets of heirloom tomato seeds and my newest copy of the Heirloom Gardener magazine in the post. Had to flick through that before I got to work in the gardens, of course. It has some fantastic stuff and recipes on squash/pumpkins, and heirloom dahlias this quarter, as well as other stuff.

The day was sunny and warm so I got all the empty raised beds in the polyhouse topped up to put in our early cucumbers and tomatoes. Great work done but I am a bit stiff now from all the wheelbarrowing of dirt. Too late to do anything else though.

Yeah, I know - I will try to remember to take my camera out tomorrow and get some pics for the blog. I have to go out now before it gets dark and cover some plants up because we are supposed to get a frost tonight.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Miserable weather

After another couple of days of rain and cold my poor plants are looking terribel. Many of them have been sitting in a swamp for weeks and they are starting to rot. The rat-tails have blown over (but luckily I think they will keep on bearing), the carrots are rotting, and the rocket is dying. I am really looking forward to a bit of dry weather now, sigh.

I should have enough snow peas and rat-tails to give as a treat for the veggie boxes which will give my customers a bit of a rest from the carrots and napini they must be getting sick of now. I will also be able to give them a bit of celery (the only plant loving all the wet) and silverbeet. most of everything has bolted to seed with the couple of nice days we had a while ago.

Been busy planting seeds in trays, taking cuttings and dividing mints to sell through the nursery website. My bank ballance is in trouble again with my Ebay buying, can't help it - maybe I should join Ebay Anonymous, lol. Ahhh, spring.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Oh, what a beautiful day

Spring has sprung and everything is waking up. Buds are burstung, flowers are flowering and the sun is shining. What more could you ask for.

I am getting ready for all the work that will need doing over the next few months and the sunny day today get me out and working all day. I weeded, dug, planted, weeded, sowed seeds, weeded some more and came in a few times for a cuppa.

I am exhausted but happy with the amount of work I got done today. Pity we are in for rain for the next three days. Got a couple of metres of potting mix delivered and have started potting up already.

I love gardening when it is like this.

Friday, August 31, 2012

More rain and more rain

Most of my vegetables are under water right now. I remember in the summer how I was complaining that the heat and dry was killing all the plants, not they are rotting in the water. Pulled a couple of carrots and the bottoms have rotted off - I may have to pull them all if there are not enough good to sell :(

Went to the Henty hall and garden club meeting last night and got bogged. I didn't see the water in the grass when I drove in the gate. Lucky there was someone there with a ute to pull me (and another unlucky person) out.

I have a few empty beds to redig and sow but they are like a swamp so I am waiting impatiently for the predicted warm, dry weather in a few days. It will be good to get some real work done.

My rat tails will be ready to start harvesting in a couple of weeks. I shared a few around at the Henty meeting and they went down well. I think they will sell at the market.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Wow, broke even

The Hamilton market was great today, I sold out in a couple of hours and broke even for the first month. I hope I break even or make a profit every month from now on. Everyone was really happy with what I had brought and I am starting to get regulars that buy more each month. I will not have a great deal to take next month but I should be harvesting more each month after that.

I noticed red legged earth might killing my seedlings a couple of days ago and now that I have harvested all that I had ready, I can spray them tomorrow. I wish there was an organic way to deal with them but my research hasn't turned up anything so I still have to keep up my two sprayings in spring. If I don't spray them  they will totally destroy all my vegetables within a week - I have no choice.

At least red legged earth mite is the only serious pest I have. I complain about the snails and a couple of other things but I can live with them, and use non-poisonous control means. The only other thing I have to control with chemicals is the damn couch grass but I only have to spray that a few times the first year of a new block, then it is down to a level where I can hand weed.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oh boy, I must post more often

It is amazing how time flies, I didn't think it was this long since I last posted.

The weeds are getting out of control with spring coming, they have overgrown some of my beds so I will be out redigging the beds in the coming couple of weeks and replanting them. I think it is still a bit early for most of my seeds, I don't want to risk them getting a frost on them as they are growing then bolting to seed. My caulis and broccoli has all bolted but I have not pulled them up because the heads are still good for stir-fry packs.

It is still very cold and wet so the veggies are only just starting to show a little growth. I am hanging out for a bit of warmer weather but it will bring on new growth that will be burnt off with the spring frosts that are coming.

My rat-tails are growing slowly, not enough to take to saturdays market. I tasted one, it was ok but probably better in a stir-fry rather than raw.

I should have enough fresh stuff to take to the market and I hope I get my table back after not being able to go last month.

Monday, August 13, 2012

My rat-tails are making rat tails

My rat tailed radishes are making little pods at long last. Here is a picture of my little test patch flowering away. The plants are over a metre tall and very healthy. They don't mind the frost at all.



And here is a close-up of a couple of pods


I hope they are a good seller at the market. I will have to taste one when it is a bit bigger.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Starting to get into spring mode

With the plants waking up and a few nice days I have been busy in the garden. I have planted my water chestnuts, potted up a heap of plants and cuttings for sale later.

I couldn't get onto my D block for a couple of days as a pair of plovers had taken their newly hatched chicks there. They have moved on down the street so I don't have to duck now. I have been busy there transplanting a heap of seedlings onto new beds so I can weed their old beds. The dormant seeds in the ground are really coming along and I couldn't weed with the vegetables in there as the weeds were too thick.

I will put up a picture of my new raised beds for the Chinese yams. They are all filled and waiting for the plants. I have wired them together so I can easily pull them apart to harvest in a year or two.

Got some horseradish roots in the mail today and they are in pots now till I figure out where to put them.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Such a busy day

The weather is good, all the plants are waking up, so it is time to get to work.

I got 2 metres of potting mix delivered, and built and filled two raised beds to plant my Chinese yams in. The tubers grow so deep that is difficult to dig them up so raised beds that can be pulled apart to harvest is the best solution. Will plant them tomorrow.

Got most of my water chestnuts planted. The rest will go in a friends dam later in the week.

Did a heap of potting. I repotted a heap of plants that were doing no good because I put them in bad potting mix. They should grow well now. Put some alpine strawberry seeds in but it is still too early for most of my other seeds yet.

I can't wait till the summer/autumn when some of my more unusual things will be harvested and I can taste them. I hope the Chinese keys and American groundnuts do well so I have enough to sell. If I am really lucky my blue sausage fruit plants will fruit, but I think they are still a bit young. I may have to wait another year.

A couple of days ago I went shopping and bought a native desert lime, maquie berry and bay tree. I love fruit tree shopping.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Nothing much happening today

We had a couple of nice days but, apart from the weeds, nothing much is growing. I did check my cauliflowers and they are starting to make small heads, and breaking apart. I  expected that though, my soil is too sandy and they only produce tiny buttons. I don't know why I keep trying.

I got some more actinidia melandra (purple kiwifruit) in the post, I hope I can get them to grow to replace the one that died over the summer - just in case the two that survived are the same sex.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Digging my scorzonera

OUt the back it is getting  a bit boggy with all the rain we have had so I decided to dig up my scorzonera plants to put in large pots so they don't rot. I really want some seeds off them. Here is a handful of them.



I am fasting for a few days so I decided to only cook only one to taste and replant the rest. Just like the recipes say, I scraped the roots (will peel next time), boiled in salted water until nearly soft, then fried in butter (real butter) until just turning golden.

They were quite nice tasting, just like artichoke. I will plant a heap more next year as they are far better to prepare and taste than salsify.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Finally got a moment to myself

I have been so busy the past few days. I have been making a few dollars pocketmony writing website content while the weather was bad. I got a big order that had to be done in only three days so I have been very busy typing. I just got it finished so now I can update this blog.

I don't have enough stuff to take to the market on saturday but that is partly made up with a new person ordering my vegie boxes. I will have to be careful to have loads of stuff ready to harvest by the time cold weather comes next winter. Everything stops growing with the cold weather so it should hold over the winter and I will have a reliable harvest every month. Lots of learning, lol.

My poor yacon tubers are starting to pop their little shoots up way too early. It is still two months till the last frost so they will get burnt off. I will have to cover them. My water chestnuts are in the same boat.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Busy weekend

I have been busy for the last three days in another town helping a girl learn how to train wild donkeys so I haven't been at a computer to update this blog.

Nothing much happening at the moment but I have to get the van and stuff ready for the market this coming Saturday. Everything is starting to show spring so I am about to put in my water chestnuts today and some strawberry seeds. The redcurrants are bursting their buds and so is the yacon unfortunately, as there is still a lot of frosts to come yet.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wow, I didn't realise it had been so long

I have been so busy that I didn't realise it had been so long since I have updated this blog.

Not a lot has happened. We have had a good lot of rain so I am happy about that. I don't have a lot to talk about so I will tell you some of the interesting plants and produce I will have for sale from next autumn.

Four colours of oca (NZ yam), American ground nut, water chestnuts, lotus, Chinese keys, Chinese yam, horseradish, Chinese artichokes, licorice, and more that I can't think of at the moment.

Make sure you go to my shop http://www.gardenlarder.biz/ regularly to see what I have added.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The plants are waking up early

All the deciduous plants have decided that they have had enough of sleeping and are already starting to burst their buds, just in time for frosts to bit them off.  The avocados have their flower buds swelling but I'm sure we will have enough frosts in the next two months to make sure they don't set fruit, oh well, such is life.

Here is the promised picture of the first rat-tailed radish floweers. They are so cute. White with purple veining



And here are a couple of the 60 litre tubs that I will be planting my water chestnuts into. Don't worry, I am still adding dirt here.

My yard is going to look very pretty with all the coloured tubs. I still have to buy 6 more. I think I will plant a lotus into one just to find out if this size tub is big enough.



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

At long last - flowers

Been a bit longer than I thought but my rat-tail radishes have just started flowering - I will grab a picture tomorrow. I only hope they get pollinated as I haven't seen any bees around. There might be enough other insects around that I have not noticed, fingers crossed. Can't wait to try them.

Got my electric fence energiser in the post. I will pop into town on friday to buy a couple of posts and some tape and then I can put it up.

My friend Jantina came over a couple of days ago and we swapped some plants. I got a peruvian parsnip and a couple of little naranjilla seedlings. I have to keep the naranjillas inside at the moment as they are a bit frost tender. Mmmm, I have been looking forward to getting some fruit off those.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Nice haul in the post today

Just as the title says, I got some nice goodies in the post - chinese yam, more chinese keys, bamboo seeds and horseradish root. I can't wait to get them in the ground in spring.

I put some oca tubers in small pots so I can sell them later when they start growing but I have so many small tubers that I don't know what to do with them. I might have to put them on Ebay.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Brrrrrrrrr

Last night we had the coldest frost we have had here for a couple of years. It must have been at least minus 2C. There was ice everywhere. I'm glad I put a couple of fairly tender plants under cover last night. There was some plant damage but I think they will recover. The poor capsicums and pepinos are totally finished and the tamarillos were badly burnt.

I bought a solar powered electric fence on Ebay for J block. I will get some tape for it locally. I dug a couple more beds but I haven't been too active - it has just been too cold.

It is the middle of winter but most of the deciduous plants have decided that they have had enough and are starting to shoot. I hope the new shoots don't get burnt off. I have had trouble just puting the yacon into storage, the growign tips just want to get going.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Yeah, been a bit slack again

I thought it had been only a couple of days since my last post but it works out to be 4, time does fly.

I haven't done much, just dug a couple of beds in block three, one of which I have planted out with yacon and pink oca. The days have been mild enough to get some work done but I have had some after work staff meetings at the aged home where I work part-time so I haven't had time to take advantage of the weather.

Recieved my chinese keys, water chestnuts and a couple of native finger lime trees in the mail, along with some seeds like jicama. I have tried jicama before but they didn't do well so I am going to try again. I have some Ahipa seeds coming too. These are very hard to get in Australia, they are closely related to jicama.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

What's Rowan Growin'

How's that for the title of my online newsletter (that I have not started yet). It was suggested to me at the market and I love it. Anyone who wants my monthly online newsletter just let me know.
Anyway... I didn't take a lot to the market today and I sold out again, as usual. The weather was rain and hail but enough people came out to make it worthwhile. I can't wait till I will have enough stuff to harvest to make up a huge table.

People loved the oca I had out and bought up all the Jerusalem artichoke. I had no idea people loved it so much. I always sell it all. I will have to look around for a less knobbly type to grow though.

I hope it clears up enough for me to dig some more beds on my 3rd block. I am going to have to work hard to get it ready for spring planting. I need a week of good weather to get a heap of beds done. I have to remember to buy an electric fence to put around it to keep the neighbours horse out.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Busy, busy, busy

Today I spent the morning at Merino primary school checking out their Kitchen Garden sceme. All I can say is WOW. I wish all schools were a part of this program. The students work on their food gardens and then pick and cook what they have grown. It is so impressive.
Kids that a couple of years ago couldn't use a knife or fork properly and rarely tasted a vegetable now can easily make their own pasta, read recipes and more. WOW again. This is a program that should be manditory in schools, primary and secondary.

I spent the afternoon picking veggies for the market tomorrow. I thought I would have more than I picked but the van looks depressingly empty again. I hope I have a good day anyway. It is supposed to rain :(

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rain and sun, nature can't make up her mind

After a few days of drizzly weatehr where it always looked like it was clearing, then when you go outside it rained on you we finely got a nice day today.

I had to work at my 'normal' job this morning so I didn't have a lot of time to do anything in the garden. I did spray the grass in my new block. I hate to spray Roundup but it is necessary to start with - it would be impossible to get rid of the grass by hand, but my first block is nearly grass free and I am able to keep on top of it and the weeds by hand and mulching.

I have been busy on Ebay again buying some bamboo seeds and yam tubers. I am looking forward to spring when I can start planting.

I have been selling some vegetable tubers on Ebay and they have sold really well. In them are yacon, oca, Chinese artichokes and Jerusalem artichokes.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Herbs and beneficial insects

I planted a heap of thyme and oregano plants today. Now that the beds are all done on my first two blocks I need to add flowering things to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects. In the spring I will be planting marigolds and some other stuff as well as a few more flowering herbs.

I spent most of today tidying up and throwing out a lot of weedy pots and plants I don't want. Will fill the pots up in the spring with more edible plants for the markets.

I was too bored this morning and went on a buying spree on Ebay, naughty me. Got seeds of a number of unusual tuberous vegetables like two varieties of jicama, two types of yams and Chinese fingers. Damn, I should control myself, lol.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rat tails starting to flower

Well, not really but they are close. I notice that they are starting to put up flower stalks so it shouldn't be long now. I am really looking forward to those.

Had some good rain last night, about an inch and a half. We really need it.
Talking of water, I have decided to try my hand at water chestnuts as well - yes, I am going to grow everything I can, I will be very busy, lol. I bought a tub to grow them in and will get a few more soon. Luckily I don't need to hurry until spring. I have a bid going on Ebay for some corms so I will be ready.

I was walking around the blocks today and I think I will finelly have enough to go to market with and have a good showing. I will have carrots, lettuce, dwarf pak choy, perennial leeks, oca, napini, rocket and mangle wurzel ready and maybe a couple of other things as well. I baked some oca and mangle wurzel tonight to eat and they were delicious. I love them baked then sprinkled with lemon juice and butter.

Check out my Wiki website for recipes and growing info on all the plants and produce that I sell:  http://www.gardenlarder.net/