Saturday, March 31, 2007

Birds Eye View

I am often asked what size our backyard is and the shape of it. As I am scared of heights I asked Pat to climb up onto the roof and take some photos to show you. Seeing he did such a great job for me I have picked out 5 photos to try and cover all areas, as the yard couldn't all fit into the one photo.

When looking to buy a house the yard was very much in the back of my mind as I knew I wanted to start a vegie garden as soon as we moved it. There were a few scraggly shrubs that were removed as we increased the vegie area. Also the lawn was bigger but this has been cut down in size by using a no-dig practice.

So lets take a tour of my backyard.

Standing on the shed roof looking straight out towards the main vegie patch. The "people fence" separates the poultry run from the garden and lawn area. This fence went up when the water restrictions came in and also too many complaints of duck poo on the cement and lawn, from family members.

In this photo you can see the new area for our espalier trees that will be going in this winter. Next year we are hoping to add more fruit trees along the back fence in the duck run. This will need more thought though as we don't want the ducks to strip new growth of those trees.

Standing over the kitchen/dining room window area you can see the chook house, Pat's shed and the duck shed. On the list to do at some stage is to pull down the chook house and use the duck shed as the hen house. Take the chook run to the fence near the composting area. This will the let the chooks have more of a run and I don't have to baby sit them when out as a few tend to hop over the people fence and raid the garden.

The chooks have a good size run area and also underneath the old cubby house as well.

That is the leafy area plot for the autumn/winter months. Behind it is the raspberry section and Cadbury's day hutch for when the playpen is booked out. This is also the rabbit hutch I fell over and needed to get my left leg dressed for that fortnight.

Looking down over the far end of the main vegie patch you can see the area behind the apricot tree. This is where I am growing the green manure patch this winter. Good area for growing plants in the summer as the sun gets to that area nicely. Winter time isn't not as good of an area for growing plants, though I do think a leafy crop would do okay here. Giving that a try next winter.

The root crop under protection can be seen easily and it's a fair size as well. Where the asparagus and zucchinis are is part of the no-dig area.

The grey foliage shrub is wormwood that I grow for the chooks and ducks. Its a natural wormer for them.

This photo shows more of the duck run, their new shelter , dead plum tree (must cut more of that down), and the composting area.

When the chook run is redone, the composting area will be inside the chook run. That will thrill the chooks feather off to no end.

You can see the tyre compost bin I make up each year in the cooler months. This will be used in the spring. Yellow pond upside down also has compost under in and the duck love to stand on it and yell out to me at meal time if I'm running late.

So there you have it a tour of my backyard. With a yard this size to get as much out of it for food as possible, I look at growing plants upwards where possible.

Pat's and my dream one day is to have a hobby farm where I can go berserk with the space. One day when my powerball numbers come in.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Quiet day Today.

After being so busy in the garden preparing areas for crops and then either sowing seeds or transplanting out seedlings, it was nice to have a day off from the garden.

Pat and I went into the city to do a few things and do some window shopping.

While looking through the shops we called into Dymocks book store and I bought Jackie French's Soil Food. Very excited about this as I haven't got a book that solely talks about soil and how to feed and care for it. I have a few of Jackie French's books in my book collection for gardens. So I am looking forward to some quiet time read up on how I can improve my garden soil, even more than what it is now.

Birds are giving the green manure area a run for it's money. This area was lovely and level and those holes are from their scratching when hunting for seeds.

There is still a fair bit of green manure germinating and so I am hoping it'll be enough to improve the soil for a spring planting.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Worms, Worms And Yes Worms

I can never say enough good things about having a worm farm in my backyard. I think every garden should have a worm farm, not only for recycling kitchen scraps and reducing landfill waste. Worm farming is a gardeners secret gold mine for their garden.

My first worm farm was when we lived in a rented house, using a broccoli foam box. I wasn't sure if I would keep up the farm and wanted to try and do it as cheap as possible.

After we bought this house and my interest in gardening in the vegetable area grew, the foam box was replaced with the first of my two farms.

Now my worm farms are a valued part of my garden in feeding plants as they grow. I have also lost count of how many people I have helped start up their own farms.

Today was by the moon cycle planting, time to plant out the leafy greens.

So today I planted out

  • loose leaf lettuce
  • rainbow chard
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • leeks
  • spring onions
  • baby spinach

Worm castings can be collected different ways. My preferred way is to remove the lid and let the worms escape further down in the castings. I always use disposable gloves when handling the worms and their castings. Not so much I am worried about a worm latching on and sucking the life out of me, but more so my skin oils harming the worms.

I lightly scrap off the castings into a ice cream container so that I can use the harvested castings while transplanting seedlings out.

Every seedling that is transplanted out into my garden is given a small amount of worm castings in the hole under the roots. Castings are gentle enough not to burn the delicate roots of seedlings.

Worm castings have so much goodness in them, that leaving it in the sun will suck all the goodness out of those wonderful castings. So if you use the castings in the garden, make sure soil is covering it, to keep the sunlight of the castings.

Worm wee is another bonus for the garden. It's collected and stored in containers with lids (keeps the mozzies out) . I use a clip on 2 ltr container attached to the hose (full of worm wee) and spray it over the garden. Plants respond well to this and I swear by it.

I see people buying worm castings and worm wee at the nurseries and for a little bit more time and money, they could have it on tap in their backyard and reduce kitchen and garden waste.

I have on my main site posted photos on today's plantings. Lots of long shots to show you where the seedlings were planted out. Also a photo of some curl grubs and Clancy cleaning them up out of my hand.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pavers Are In.

Over night we had 4 mm of rain bringing the grand total of rain in 8 days to 39.5 mm. Made for easy moving of the very wet clay soil ready to put the pavers in as a boarder, where the espalier fruit trees will be going in a few months.

One of the heavier parts of the mornings playing was bringing the last of the pavers my brother gave me around from the front yard to where they were to be used. Three pavers in my light sized wheel barrow made for a few trips. Pat ended up taking over as he could push with a few more in the barrow.

So while Pat brought the last of the pavers round I started to place the pavers in the area where they were to go.

Besides the usual spiders Pat came across a little gecko. Sadly it dropped his little tail in fright. It's only a little gecko and we released it back after his photo was taken. I think these little guys are just so cute:)

I can't get over the speed these root crops are germinating. Noticed this morning the beet root seeds have germinated over night. So all that is left are the carrots and parsnips to burst through the soil. I can't wait:)

I have posted photos over on my main website on what we archived today with the espalier project. Really feel we have made a good move now towards the planting of more fruit trees in our garden. Not so much of a dream now, but a reality.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Seedlings Are On The Move.

Root crops were sown on Friday, already the radishes are up 3 days later and today I see the turnips have germinated as well. This is very exciting for a gardener to see all the work starting to pay off in baby steps.

Pat asked me this morning how long the seed fortress was staying around the root crop area. I reckon until the seedlings are big enough to cope with birds sticking their beaks and feet in between the rows.

Radish Seedlings

Turnip Seedings

Today is the day for me to sow my peas for this season. I have picked a climbing pea called "Telephone" and if they peas make it inside.... these are good for freezing. Most of the time Pat & I just eat them fresh off the trellis. Put extra seeds in for coping with the birds that at the moment are stealing seeds from the green manure patch.

Out the front this morning I planted out daffodils I ordered last September at the Adelaide Show. These were delivered to my home by the box behind the bulbs in paper bags with labels of the variety on them, last month.

I scored 3 bulbs for free with my order and some plant labels.

This years bulbs have been planted along the footpath leading up to our front door.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

On my moon planting chart I use, 27th of March is the day for sowing peas. So I am all set with 2 trellises out the back set up for the sowing.

On the 29th I am going to plant out my leafy plants. So this morning we called into our local Mitre 10 shop near us to collect my list of seedlings. Interesting thing was they had no seedlings in their garden area at all. When I questioned them, they said over the summer months, seedlings weren't selling and left to die on the shelf. People are just starting to go in and ask for seedlings now.

So we had to go to Bunnings instead. Not that going to Bunnings isn't a bad thing, just I like to help the little guy first and also Mitre 10 is 50 cents cheaper a punnet.

I was so good at Bunnings today, I only bought my seedlings on the list in my hand. Only one not able to be bought were leeks. Sold out over the weekend.

  • mini caulies
  • dragon broccoli
  • mixed loose lettuce
  • lion heat cabbage
  • baby spinach
  • rainbow chard

Out the back the summer crops are still cropping and producing abundantly. Looking at putting a second sowing of bassicas in where the zucchini are at the moment. So in a months time I will see how well the zucchini are cropping.

Burpless cucumbers are still cropping and are so much nicer than the shop ones. I have been able to give a few away as well as keep us in supply. I like to grow mine up a trellis, keeps the crop clean and gives me more space for growing other foods.

I have never seen this variety of egg plant before and I am very impressed with the bumper crop so far. These seeds were sent to me by a fellow gardener and the seeds came from "Eden Seeds" and the variety is "Early Long Purple". One plant is more than enough for me as I am the only one who eats them.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Oh Did I Play Hard

With the backyard all sorted out I thought an hour or so out the front would be nice after the rain.

Ever felt after doing something you think....."Oh I shouldn't have done that"??? This is how I feel now.

Think the last few days of playing hard has caught up with me, as I have very sore shoulders and this in turn has given me a headache as well.

Took some pain killers late this morning and had a lay down and went to sleep once the tablets kicked in.

Removed all the dead plants from the front yard and gave the roses a light pruning back to new shoots, that have shot with the rain we had.

Noticed lots a plants are reshooting like violets and yarrow. Also bulbs are start to shoot as well. Like these anemones.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007


Think I posted too early this morning as I have new photos of the area we are going to grow some fruit trees espalier style.

This is the area that will be growing a nectarine & plum tree.

A step by step report can be found here with more photos on how we archived this next photo.

Very excited about the up coming months with this project. next step is the frame work for training the trees on.

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Slippery Little Suckers

In the afternoon yesterday rain started to fall and all up we had 15.5 mm of rain. After all seeds were sown and gardening was completed for the day, sitting back and listening to the rain fall was wonderfully rewarding.

Last night I did my first slug/snail patrol for the year and came up with this tidy amount.

Margarine dish secured better this time round and sitting on the kitchen sink , I walked into our rumpus room and here slimming over the carpet was this fellow.

Who ever said green carpet isn't greener on the other side of the door.??

Chooks enjoyed their meaty breakfast this morning.

Muscles are feeling it this morning but at some stage today I am outside starting to remove lawn against our "people fence". Last year Pat and I decided to grow fruit trees against this fence in an espalier style.

Also need to bring round the back, last of the pavers my brother dropped off from his place months ago. I'll use these as a boarder round the freshly dug area.

When we came up with this idea last year it was too close to the end of fruit tree planting season. So this is on the list of things we want to do this winter. Hoping to have in by the time planting season is finished

  • white flesh nectarine
  • plum
  • apple

Where the old plum tree was (died last year) a orange or mandarin tree.
Harvested this morning, zucchinis, capsicums and basil. Want to make another Pesto at some stage today.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

First Planting With Moon Cycle

What an amazing morning Pat & I had out the back preparing and sowing our first crop by a moon phase. Pat is still sitting on the fence with the whole idea, but at least he's not rubbishing me about it:)

We ended up doing a few other jobs out in the garden as well. I set up the area for two trellises where Telephone Peas will be planted later on this month.

Pat had the great idea of converting Flossy's old rabbit hutch into a shelter for the ducks. So now he's top of the pops with the ducks.

So lets go through what we did this morning in the garden.

After using a metal rake to get the soil to a fine tilth I used old garden stakes to mark out the rows for where the seeds will be planted. Also I have put a label tag at each end to help guide me when making a drill.

2 rows carrots
2 rows of beetroot
1 row parsnip
1 row swedes
1 row turnips

As radishes grow so fast, I have taken advantage of this and sowed a row between each of the rows I listed above.

So all up in the root crop area there are 12 rows of vegies sown.

While sitting out the back having a spell (due to the humidity) and a glass of skinny coke, I came up with this FAB TAB of an idea. With all the work in research and sweat I have put into getting this right, last thing I needed was a chook, duck, rabbit or feral bird hopping over the people fence and digging the area over.

I didn't ask Cadbury if I could use her playpen figured with all the promising upcoming root crop tops, she'd say yes.

Pat helped to set it up and putting the wire over the top to keep birds out. Once the seedlings are a good size we'll remove it.

Green manure seeds sprinkled and dampened down. Before spreading the seeds round I removed a wheel barrow of soil and then raked the area level. Then I spread the collected soil back over the seeds.

The whole idea of this is to help stop the local free loading birds coming in for a one stop feed.

Last year I sowed 13 garlic cloves from 2005's harvest. This year I sowed 24 cloves from 2006 harvest. Decided to plant these on the edge of the leafy green area. Love garlic and very proud I am able to use my own supply from year to year.

I am sure you are aware of how much I love composting? The above photo shows you how well it can work. The white markings in the bottom of the hole is cement edging from where the old lawn used to end and the vegie garden starts.

Must be 4 or 5 years now since I cut down the size of the lawn by using a no-dig approach to increase my vegie garden. I started off using old soiled sawdust from animal cages and as time went by the waste rotted down and now I just pile old animal bedding and sheep manure on top. Plants are now sown over this area where the cement paving is.

Flossy's old bunny hutch is now Duck Hilton and going from the guest, its a full house first day of business.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Seasol & Worm Wee

In the moon cycle phases today on the chart I use, garden should be mulched with seaweed if possible or treat mulch with Seasol or fish product.

It must be noted that most councils don't allow removal of seaweed from the beaches. If you intend to collect seaweed from the beach in your area, check with your local council.

So I added some Seasol to my clip on 2 ltr bottle full of concentrated worm wee and sprayed my garden.

As the time allocated for using a hose is after 8 pm, garden was watered by lights.

Tomorrow is the big day for Lucky's Duck Farm, first sowing of seeds planted by the moon cycle. I am not sure if I'll sleep tonight out of excitement and the whole idea of trying out something completely different.

As I read more on moon phases I have visions in my head of this over grown, heavy cropping vegie garden. Boy I sure hope I am not heading for a big fall.

Back to positive thoughts, weather people have forecast rain from about lunch time onwards tomorrow. So I'll be up early in the morning as the temp is expected to read just over 30 degrees before the cool change and rain arrives.

On Saturday it'll be time to sow my green manure patch. I'm going to have to be more clever than the birds that live in the park. Otherwise those birds will have a free feed of some good organic seeds.

Then on Thursday 29th I'll plant my leafy greens.

So it's all happening and I am sure the whole new way of planting is going be so rewarding.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My Babies Are Gone

Big day had arrived, a day family were saying I wouldn't do. Sell some of my babies that were born late last year and early this year.

Too many faces and tummies to feed and so the 4 ducklings Dusty, Daffy, Snowy and Twinner Mark 2 were boxed up along with a pair of Light Sussex bantams.

We had to take them out in boxes with wire over the top. Knew that odd piece of wire I had stored would come in handy:) Pat used plastic ties to secure the wire to the box leaving a side open to pop the birds through.

To not stress the animals and me for that matter, I walked the poultry into their shed and closed the door. So there we were the 7 of us with a torch, looking at each other and hoping this wasn't going to be stressful.

All ready for a car trip and a new life, with a little old lady who'll let them wander round a lush garden, have babies and grow old.

With the odd quack from the back of the car, we headed off to the Gawler Poultry Auction that is held every Wednesday. We could drop the poultry of between 6.30 to 9.30 in the morning.

Pat & I saw ducks, chooks, turkeys, pigeons, budgies, rabbits, parrots, small birds, guinea fowl, goats, fruit & veg and sundries.

Outside pens where some poultry was penned for sale and further down there were goats.

Inside the shed was where my sales sat and auctioned off. Animals that were here ranged from the list above. My 3 boxes where right down towards the back. To the right in the photo was where the plants and fruit & veg auctions are held.

The 2 Sussex went for $2.00 each and the ducks $2.50 each, equaling the grand total of $14.00

Auction people took 22% for their work and I came away with #10.90 for future food for the animals.

I am going to use the auction again down the track when I have spring babies. It's a great way to enjoy these babies, knowing I will be able to sell them when big enough.

Auctions are funny as on the day, it depends on what people want and how many are after the same animal, to how much they sell for.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rain, Green Manure & Seeds

Was woken this morning to steady rain and we had ....... drum roll.... wonderful 8 mm. :) The rain was a steady soaking and over a few hours. Today's weather then has been an overcast 22 degrees.

This made for great weather for train rides and shopping in Central Market in the city. One item on my list I wanted was some seeds for my green manure crop.

There is an organic shop in the market and I was able to get a mixture of seeds. Just a small scoop of each cost me $1.20 and all fitted just into a 500gm margarine container.

Organic wheat, rye,oats & mung beans.

After we collected our car at the interchange, we called into our poultry & grain supplier. Besides picking up some food for the poultry I also bought some seeds from my supplier.



Grey Sunflower

The sunflower I bought 5 kilo as I mix this in the wet mash for the poultry. Lupin and linseed was about 50ogms of each.

What I don't use I will more than likely just throw into the wet mash. As it's cheap as chips to buy and I can have fresh seed for next years crop.

By sowing a mixture of seeds I am hoping it will attract beneficial insects and add a good medium into the soil.

Then it was down to the toyshop (Bunnings) to buy seeds I want to sow this coming Friday. All was on the list except the peas, Pat read that they were in season for sowing and added a packet to the collection.

So I am all ready for the plantings on Friday and the weekend. With the 8 mm of rain we had and more forecast on Friday, luck surely is on my side.

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