I have been a very busy lad in the garden today.
The first thing I did was pop next door to have a look at Danni and Dale’s veggie patch to see how it was progressing. I gave Dale some sweetcorn seed that I saved from last years crop, and he planted it during the week. So far they have parsley, loose leaf lettuce, tomatoes, corn and butternut pumpkins growing quite well. Danni was a bit unsure as to whether the tomatoes were growing, so she marked the stakes with a permanent marker last week to check if there was a difference in height. Well all tomatoes have grown about 5cm with on of them growing about 10cm in a week. Then they popped over to our place to have a look how we constructed the chicken coop. I discussed the design and how I built it in elaborate detail with Dale, and offered to help him with some of the construction. They have an old dog house next door that, with a bit of modification, we could convert into a chook house. The run would be quite easy, with 4 posts, a basic frame and wire. Should be easy enough, and I might even ask Adam to help out as well. We agreed to catch up next Sunday and make a start. Well done so far neighbours, your veggie patch is going well.
Now if we can just start to convince a few more of our neighbours to join us, we will have the beginning of a small community who could swap produce and help each other out with knowledge sharing. It would be fantastic to get this type of thing up and running, because in hard times (and in good), it is nice to know that there is team of households that will have no problems with what ever we face in the future. A little bit like a mini Transition Town, but more like a hamlet I suppose. Daharja over at Cluttercut has just written a great post about the Transition Town she is helping to set up in Dunedin, New Zealand. I think if we can get enough neighbours involved just in our little area, then a Transition town in Melton West would be the next logical step. We will see what happens over the next few months.
So after the neighbours departed, I got stuck into a new veggie patch in the front yard. Here is what it looked like before I got stuck into it. Click to enlarge any of the photos.
I took all of the bark mulch off and distributed it into the other beds, then I removed all of the plants that were still alive. The two Nandina were placed in pots, the two Liriopes replaced a dead one in the deck area, and the flax and Cordilyne were transplanted into another bed in the front yard. The dead weeping cherry tree is now a feature in the chook house. Hopefully they will use it as a day perch. Here is a photo of some of the successful transplants.
After all the plants were replanted, I got stuck into making the new bed fit for vegetables. I sprinkled generious handfulls of Dynamic Lifter all over. Then a few handfuls of dolomite lime to lower the acidity in the soil due to the bark mulch. Then I dug it all over with the pitch fork. About 6 cm down I struck solid clay, so it took me about an hour to complete this task. I took it very slow, and took regular breaks so that I didn’t damage my back or flare it up. I managed to get a fair bit of clay mixed in with the garden bed soil that we imported in. This was mainly to improve the water retention properties of the bed. After all of the turning, I watered the bed once and found that the soil just repelled the water, and it just sat in pools on the surface. I had to repeat the dig then water process three more times before the water began to soak in. Thank goodness for the clay, because it helped soak in the moisture. Here is the bed after a good rake to level it out.
I watered it one more time with a watering can with some Seasol solution to help improve the soil. Tomorrow night after work, I will put down a layer of mulch, and then plant some cucumber and melon seedlings that I have managed to stop the earwigs from devouring over the last two weeks. They will have plenty of room to sprawl all over the place.
You may remember the first bed I planted out in the front yard. It is doing very well now and the sweet corn and a few self seeded tomatoes are about 30 cm high and very healthy. There are 32 corn plants, and 4 tomatoes growing in this bed.
Hopefully, as others see our efforts in the front yard, they too will want to start a veggie patch. Always happy to help out.
As for the rest of the patch in the back of the yard, here are a few progress shots I took this afternoon. Here are the chooks fertilising the plum tree for me.
Here is a shot of some Kent pumpkin seedlings that were growing in the worm farm. I planted out 4 of these today. They are yellow because they haven’t had any sunlight. Even the worms have become gardeners at my place!
A few days ago, I transplanted some of them into the pumpkin patch. This is what happens to the yellow seedlings in about 3 days.
Nice and healthy with strong first true leaves forming well.
My tomatoes are doing well. I rescued all of these self seeded plants from under two of the citrus trees. The seedlings were growing from tomatoes that had fallen into the pots last summer. What a bonus. So far, I think we have a mix of Purple Russian and Tigerella, with a few Tommy Toes for good measure.
4 out of the 7 plants already have fruit on them, with one nearly ripe Purple Russian tomato ready to be picked in the next week. I expect a bumper crop from this lot.
The onions that I planted in Easter this year are coming along well. They do take a long time to grow, but are well worth the wait. If they are going to be anything like last year, they will be the best tasting onions I will eat this year. The tops are starting to die off and the bulbs are growing fat. In about 2-3 weeks they should be ready for harvest. I can’t wait to make some more pickled onions. I only have one jar left from last years crop and they are oh so nice to crunch on.
Here is an few shots of the seedlings I am still growing for the second wave. I have about 4 capsicum and 20 more tomato seedlings doing well in small pots. The is a mix of tomatoes, from Tigerella, Mortgage Lifter, Elfie, Yellow Currant, Purple Russian, and a mix of types. Once the onions are pulled, I will plant most of them out in that bed, and the rest over in the chook house bed where the peas were.
Here are the cucumbers (spacemaster) for the front bed that I prepared today.
And some Horned African Melons for the front bed as well.
Here is some more rainbow chard for us and the chooks.
All the seedlings were planted from seed. This is about the third batch of seedlings I have tried to grow. Many did not germinate in the first round, even in the greenhouse. I tried way too early in September, and it was just too cold. The second lot got eaten by earwigs, so at least now that I have them under control, I can get some late crops in.
The citrus is going great this year. I gave each tree a handful of Dynamic Lifter in their pots today, and watered it in well. As every plant has fruit, it is a good time to apply because I have found that they are very heavy feeders as the fruit develops with the leaves turning yellow when they lack nutrients. I will have to feed them again in about 6 weeks time. I apologise for the blurry photos but you get the general idea. These are Lemonade.
And these are Mandarins
I didn’t include the pictures of the Lemon and Tahitian Lime, because they were just too blurry. The camera I used does not like close-up shots. Sorry about that.
Never a dull moment at TGOG’s house, well, not in the garden anyway!
I will leave you with this little quote that I think rings true. I am not a Buddhist, but this wisdom is undisputable.
Live your life in happiness, even though those around you lead lives which are unhealthy, and wish to spread their illness to you. Be Happiness itself. – Buddha