Saturday, November 29, 2008

Food Forest

No picture just yet, but I have been enjoying the fruits of our garden muchly these past weeks. It takes a while for those little fruit trees to mature enough to gift us generously with their lovely lovely treasures. I can honestly say we haven't bought fruit for over a month - except for mangoes of course!

There is an early cherry tree on next doors nature strip that has provided us and most of the neighbourhood with plentiful bowls of luscious fruits over the past 4 weeks, and is STILL going. The strawberries are offering up a small handful each day. The mulberries are big, fat and juicy. The raspberries are just starting to ripen, and the young berries are not far behind.

If you think about how much organic cherries, mulberries, raspberries and young berries cost in the shops, well, there is no sweeter way to feel rich and opulent than to grow your own.

This year the nashis and kiwis have really stepped it up - there are probably over 20 baby nashis slowing swelling, and well, perhaps 100 kiwis.

To off set this abundance, I am sorry to report that earwigs or slaters ate ALL of my baby zucs, rock melons, water melons, cucumbers, luffas and pumpkins. :-(

I will try again next weekend with some bought seedlings....I think I use too much mulch......any other ideas?

And here is Amelia and some of her babies - doing what ducks and chickens do so well - cleaning up garden beds prior to planting out.

Sox #4

Latest off the hook. Notice the ribbed leg!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

luvin' the garden

The kiwi vines are bringing me so much joy at the moment! They are all blossoming like mad. I think this is their 4th year in the ground. Last year we had a few little blossoms on Mr Kiwi and Miss Kiwi-in-the-middle, and ended up with a whole two kiwi fruit. But THIS year, they are full of blossoms. I have been judiciously hand pollinating with a makeup brush. Everything I have read suggests they are not that attractive to bees and that if you don't have a bee hive handy, hand pollination is the way to go. But TODAY I was pleasantly surprised to hear some happy buzzing - a few bees working away at the blossoms. I checked to see that they were on the males AND the females....and then put my makeup brush down and came in the make a cup of tea. yippeee! yay for bees.

Here is a shot of a happy bee working one of the female vines. The kiwi variety I have is "Hayward". I have two females, and an appropriately late flowering male. They are the latest blooming of the kiwi family - good for our late frosts. The Haywards are not as vigorous as some vines, and not as sweet as say the "bruno" variety - but the extra added sweetness of home grown kiwis picked when they are fully developed leaves any other commercially grown kiwi variety for dead. They are like a completely different fruit to the hard, tart, bland woollies variety.

You can find more about kiwi fruit here: sunraysia nursery

Now, in terms of a shading pergola covering vine, I don't think you can do much better than a kiwi. They grow super quickly. They can handle the COLDEST winters. They get their leaves quite late - which means your house still gets the benefit of the spring sun coming in the windows or onto the deck. Their leaves are beautiful lush green. Their shade is cool. In winter you prune them back to a poofteenth of their former selves, which lets the light and sun stream in over the cooler months. They do however, like lots of water. We have the washing machine emptying out directly onto them and for this they reward us handsomely with their shade and this year, hopefully, with some fruit!

In other news, the garlic is almost ready for harvest. These little fellas were picked because their stalks had fallen over already. They are HUGE and smell DEVINE. A purple Italian variety. The other 40 or so can wait a little longer. They are starting to brown off, but their stems near the start of the bulbs are still quite firm and thick. I read somewhere that you want to pick them when there are three layers of skin covering the bulbs - too many and they are still a bit green, which will affect storage, and too few, and they may have already started to split apart and start thinking about growing again, which will also affect storage! I don't know if this is true, but luckily enough, my method of picking them when the storks fall over seems to have worked - as they also have three layers!

I hang my garlic from the beams in the carport. It is light, warm, dry and airy here. I hang my chillies and leek seed flower heads here as well.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tomatos are in!

Sheesh. Growing tomatos in ONC - if it isnt too cold, then it is too hot! Little babies needed to be covered after planting on this bright and sunny day.

Luckily sun protection doubles as late frost protection AND wind protection - because no doubt we will have all three this week.

Here are my lovely poppies resplendent amongst the garlic.

Companion planting? Well, they seem to be getting on well enough.

It was a warm and sunny day today - plenty warm enough for me to see TWO snakes at opposite ends of the community garden. Hello fellas! Be nice. I mean you no harm. Better tell Gerry a little brown snake is living in his rhubarb patch, just near the water main.........

And something is eating my seedlings in the glass house - munching the tops right off. Did you have to destroy ALL the rock melons and water melons? I KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!!!! DEATH TO EARWIGS.

sox #3

now it would be hard to stay cranky with these on

belated bee news

Another step towards becoming a keeper of the bees. Walter Kohler-Bond held a one day natural bee keeping course at Mulloon Creek Natural Farms. It was a beautiful day. Walter is just lovely lovely lovely - a permaculture teacher from Moruya. The whole natural bee keeping thing (you know, no chemicals, no moving the hives around willy nilly, letting the hives replace their queen naturally, enabling the bees to become stronger, more resilient, cleverer and to express their full busy bee potential) attracts lots of gentle and interesting folks.
I am in the market for a second hand suit and some gloves and then, AND THEN my friend Eric will help to set me up with a little "nucleus" over summer - in time for them to establish themselves and scurry up enough honey to last over the winter.
I am not exactly scared of bees - its more a high level of respect kind of thing. It would be so lovely to see if some bees would like to come and live in my garden and share their honey.
little bees - I promise to be your devoted, nervous but willing servant.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Kiwi dating game

So after worrying about the female kiwi vines budding up before the male, it looks like Mr Kiwi is now out in front and the girls are lagging a little. Behold the first Kiwi flower of the season.

Come on girls!

In other news, it rained last night and today - WONDERFUL for the garden but not too good for my tomato planting plans. Its cleared up a little now, but there is a cold wind - not much fun for the newlyplanted - so I wait and see how the weather is later today or tomorrow.

Clever Amelia hatched out 7 little ducklings.

Oh, and after lots of drama we ended up with 13 Pekin bantam babies and only ONE faverolle. The faverolle is a he and has been duly christened "the big fella". He isn't even a very good faverolle - wrong number of toes, not quite right colour - but he'll do and I love him. He is also called "the $50 chicken" seems thats what I paid for the dozen faverolle eggs plus freight. I have never had much luck with eggs that have traveled by air. Road freight - not a problem. Express freight from QLD - not so good. He likes to sit on my shoulder in the evening while the news is on.

Hosui and Kosui have lots of perfect tiny nashis - they seem to have grown out of their juvenile budjump problem which is a relief.

The mulberries are ripening. The broadbeans are prolific - I will start freezing these tomorrow. The strawberries are luscious. It looks like we will get a crop of gooseberries for the first time. The young berries and raspberries are flowering. The lemon is looking much much better after a dose of Epsom salts and some potash.

This chilly return of winter has got me baking muffins and crocheting -its all good.