Saturday, 30 December 2006

Moon Planting and Broody Chooks

Moon Planting Fruit Day

Planted some top up/replacement seeds of:
Balinese Corn - from Eden Seeds - in the east edge of Bed 10
White African Sorghum - from SSN - in the Workshop Area
Snake Beans - from Eden Seeds - back of Bed 9

See here and here

Planted seeds for late crops of:
Black Zucchini - from Eden Seeds

Delicata Squash - from Phoenix Seeds
Shishitou Capsicums - From Diggers Club

Pale Pink Hollyhocks - borrowed from school garden

Organic Silverbeet Green Silver - from DT Brown (these should have been planted the other day during Green Planting time but I only bought them yesterday so it will be interesting to note any differences in this batch).
These were all planted into punnets and put into the shade house.

Two of my chooks have gone 'broody' over the last couple of weeks and I read in the new Earth Garden "Chook Wisdom" book (available here) I bought yesterday that chooks shouldn't be allowed to stay broody because they lose weight, get anaemic and in our hot weather could get quite dehydrated.

They recommend having a separate "clucky cage" to house these chooks in until they go off their broodiness.
The book says:
" A clucky cage needs to be light, exposed, have no nest-like corners but sheltered and with ample food and water"

The idea is to cool the chooks body temperature because while they are broody they have a higher temperature for incubating the eggs. So the cage should have a wire or slatted floor.

It's often recommended to use old 'cocky' (parrot) cages but these are as rare as 'cockies' teeth around here so I improvise and use whaterever I can.

This old milk crate is a favourite stand-by chook cage, but old Blackie doesn't seem to think so!!

Now Speckles leave her alone you know what its like in there!

I had a heap of these baker's trays out the back. Its a rough job just wired together so we will see how it goes!

Come on Gingy its not that bad in there!!

To be continued....

More Shade

On Wednesday 27th Dec Doc and I put up yet another shade structure. This one is over Bed 3 this was attached to the trampoline frame to lift the shade cloth higher to allow more light into the Tomatoes beneath it.

We have also replaced the shade cloth on the first shade structure with a terracotta coloured one with sewn hemmed edges. At the same time we added a shadecloth extension on to the new shadehouse in the Dog Pen Area.

We are buzzing along with these shade structures they are really making a difference on these hot windy days.

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Green Planting Day December 2006

Moon Planting Time for Greens today.

My Moon Planting Chart by Thomas Zimmer says:
"Some crops do equally well planted either first or second quarter.
These are : Annual Flowers, Hay, Cereal Grains & Oilseeds, Cucumbers, Melons, Leeks and Shallots"

So I planted:
Lebanese Mini Cucumbers in Dog Pen Gardenbed on a trellis of wire rescued from a Pond Cover which is no longer needed since Tiger (the Fisher of Goldfish cat) disappeared over a month ago.

Seeds of the following into a cell tray:
Cabbage - Savoy - From Phoenix Seeds
Brussels Sprouts - Fillbasket From Phoenix Seeds

Kale - Toscano - From New Gippsland Seeds

Collards - From SSN var 111EB

Broccoli - Italian Curly - From SSN var 5786

Seeds into punnets:

Perpetual Spinach - From Phoenix Seeds

Rhubarb Chard From - Phoenix Seeds

Five Colour Silverbeet Mix - From Diggers

In the ground on West edge of pond
Sunflower - Pardo Red - From Diggers

Sunflower - Evening Star - From Eden Seeds

Potted on:

4 x Tomato - Imur Prior Beta

5x Yellow Button Squash

2 Yellow Button Squash into ground in Dog Pen Gardenbed
ans a mixture of Lettuce into a poly box under the back Pergola.

In memory of Tiger 2001-2006

Sunday, 24 December 2006

Pond Re-vamp

The Main Vegetable garden Pond has been annoyingly overgrown for quite a while. With all the vegie planting going on lately I haven't had the time to fix it!
Till today!

The water was in desperate need of clearing, the Eud de cologne mint was choking it. So out it came and I only had to rescue one little fish who'd become beached.

A bit of clearing round the edges and it was so much better.

However the other end had a large Russian Sage bush that was slowly taking over the whole area. This is a very hardy plant and pretty when it flowers but the foliage stinks. It was all or nothing here, so it’s gone.
I was struggling with it when Doc (Hubby) came home from work and said he'd have a go. It only took him one swing of the pick to dislodge the entire plant.
(I still say I loosened it for him).

Just needed to clear the ground and get some plants to put in and it was finished.
Plants chosen were: White Lavender, Prostrate Rosemary, Erigeron Daisy, Bronze Fennel, a couple of Yarrow plants, Ajuga and seedling Wallflowers.

I had some helpers (other than Doc) today in the garden:

The Old Girl Chooks: Mama, Tippy and Dapple but they were mostly hiding!

The Ninja Cat

Even Lucky Dog was there to help today!

Friday, 22 December 2006

Summer Soltice

(Please click on the image to see the message!)

Today 22nd December 2006 is the Southern Hemisphere's longest day our Summer Soltice after today the daylight hours will become slowly shorter.
Now our summer's normally heat up!
Its already quite hot enough but at least things look cooler for Xmas day.

A further 16mm of thunderstorm rain over-night! The garden is loving this weekly soaking let's hope it keeps up!

Sunday, 17 December 2006

Garden Log 17 Dec 06

Total rainfall for Thursday/Friday was 14mm. That's the best we've had in a long while. The garden is refreshed and the chooks survived although one has decided to go "broody".

I have posted my Holiday To Do List (pt1) on my ALS glog and updated it here so in between drying apricots and making jam I took some more photos of the garden.

This Red Radicchio from a Mesclun Mix is going to seed and doesn't look very red anymore.

The Waltham Butternut Pumpkins are setting although I'm noticing more female flowers than males this year.

Russian Garlic is fowering here in Bed 10 the corn and pumpkin bed.

My favourite Zucchini Rondo De Nice are growing happily under their shade in bed 5

Stipe and Sweet Cucumbers are sharing the shade in bed 5.

This baby sunflower doesn't to live up to its name of Russian Giant but it is still very pretty!

Thursday, 14 December 2006

Garden Log 14 Dec 06

Something woke me at 4am this morning!
What was that noise???
Yes it was rain gently falling on the roof.
By 8am we'd had 4.5mm not a lot but around here every drop is great. With rumblings far away and promises of thunderstorms this evening we should be in for quite a bit more.

I don't know if it has arrived in time to save my front garden though.

Some of the plants out there are looking very sick!

Of course other natives just sit and wait for rain.

But the vegies are jumping out of the ground this morning.
Sunflowers and purslane planted for chook forage are loving the rain!

The rain should bring up the rest of the Sorghum planted last week in the heat!

Everything smells great!
Even the fish are happy.

Not too sure about the chooks they're just not used to this wet stuff!!

Sunday, 10 December 2006

Going Potty (Potting Mix that is...)

After a few years of experimenting I have settled on this method of making or supplementing my own potting mix.

I use
1 Bag of whatever potting mix is on special.
Having said that there are a couple of brands I still wouldn't use as they tend to set like rock in the pots or dry out much too fast.

1 Coir peat brick made from coconut fibre they are more sustainable than peat moss.

I soak these in 5 litres of rainwater

Often add nutrients too the water. Here I have just used seaweed liquid as I am using this mix for seedlings or cuttings. When I intend to use the potting mix for potting on seedlings I also add fish emulsion now and some blood and bone to the dry mixture. I also put some worm castings in the pots when potting on.

1 bucket of sandy loam any washed sand will do this is for drainage.

Each of these items are put into Max Mixer the concrete mixer that Hubby and I went halves in last year. I thnk I've used it more than him!!

Buzzed around for long enough to ensure everything is well mixed.

Then tipped into a waiting wheelbarrow ready to use.

The potting mix ready to use

I prefer to use this straight away but if I need to store it I put it in a large plastic crate container with a wooden lid stored in the shadehouse out of the weather.

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Garden Log 6 Dec 06

I thought this was supposed to be summer????
Look at the first three days temperatures!!
Friday 1st December Min 13.5
°C Max 30°C
Saturday 2nd December Min 7.5
°C Max 21.9°C
Sunday 3rd December Min 3.9°C Max 24.7°C

Don't worry they've promised 38
°C for Friday this week and that they will be getting right! Pitty they can't be so sure of our rainfall.

We've been enjoying the cooler weather and getting stuck into the garden to do list. We managed to put up another shade structure on Saturday. A tunnel over the potatoes in Beds 7&8.

Monday morning another went up over the squashes, zucchinis and cucumbers in Bed 5.

Saturday was the beginning Moon Planting for Fruit for December so the Black Cherry Tomatoes were planted by the trellis at the back gate and drippers were attached to these.

I had 1 each of the Ida Gold, Red Cloud and these Black Cherry Tomatoes left over so these found homes in the Tank Beds.
Sunday I planted the White African Sorghum in the Workshop Area where the ground had been prepared and a weepy hose attached last week.

Now I have to mulch these new plantings well ready for that heat later in the week!!

Sunday, 3 December 2006

Main Vegetable Garden Layout

This year the planting is as follows:

Bed 1:
Onions: Creamgold
Carrots: Heirloom Mixed
With Companions: each other, Alyssum and White Cosmos

Bed 2:
Onions: White and Red
Garlic: Biofresh Selection

Bed 3:
Tomatoes: Ida Gold, Dwarf (from seed savers)
Tomatoes: Red Cloud, Dwarf (from seed savers)
With Companions: Basil, Celpar (celery/parsley cross)

Bed 4:
Tomatoe: Polish Giant (from seed savers)
Watermelon: Moon and Stars (heirloom)
With Companions: Nasturtiums and Basil

Bed 5:
Cucumber: Lebanese Mini (organic seed)
Cucumber: Stripe and Sweet (heirloom)
Squash: Delicata (organic seed)
Squash: Yellow Button
Zucchini: Black
Zucchini: Rondo De Nice
With Companions: Nasturtiums

Bed 6: Trial Mixed Bed:
Sunflowers: Giant Russian
Parsley: Italian (rescued volunteer seedlings)
Beetroot: Heirloom Mixed
Kohlrabi: Super Schmeltz
Kale: Russian Red
Broccoli: Purple Peacock
Lettuce: Red Velvet
Beans: Red Mung
NZ Spinach: (volunteer seedlings)
Tomato: Tigeralla (in cage)
Potato: Kipfler (in cage)
With Companions: Nasturtiums, Basil (Lettuce Leaf and Purple), Oregano, Thyme, Sage and Rosemary (these last 3 in big pots)

Bed 7 & 8:

Bed 9:
Beans: Lazy Housewife Climbing (from seed savers) on trellis
Potatoes in Tyres (painted white to stop heat build up)

Bed 10:
Beans: Dutch Stringless Climbing (from seed savers) on trellis
Sweetcorn: Dwarf
Sweetcorn: Balinese
Pumpkin: Waltham Butternut
With Companions: each other, nasturtiums, (orange cosmos, and marigolds that have self-sown from last year)

The Tyres:
Strawberries various varieties include: Sweet Heart and Chandler.
With Companion: Feverfew (usually Borage here but too hot this year for it)

Pussy-willow Bed:
Fig Tree
Meyer Lemon
Plus Companions and other Plants: White Cosmos, Erigeron Daisy, Clary Sage, Acacia acinacea, Rosemary, Lavender, Feverfew, Calendula, Arctosis, Cedronella, Convolvulus Cneorum, Bearded Irises, Southernwood, Euryops and bordered by a Tree Wormwood Hedge for wind protection.

Perennial Edge Beds:
Daisies, Evening Primrose, Lucerne, Gourds, Catnip, Hollyhocks, Westringia, Rosemary, Sage, Mirabilis, Oregano, Golden Marjoram, Roman Wormwood, Yarrow, self seeded Coriander and Parsley. Pond Edges: Similar plants to the edge beds

Perennial Beds:
Rhubarb, Asparagus (green and purple), Globe Artichoke, Squash, Zucchini, Sunflowers and French Sorrel

Fruit Trees:
1 Bartlett Pear
2 Narrabeen Plum
3 Red Fuji Apple
4 William Pear
5 Cox’s Orange Pippin Apple
6 Stella Cherry
7 Figs Cuttings from Garden Club Members Trees
8 Anzac Peach
9 Golden Delicious Apple
10 Santa Rosa Plum
11 Goldmine Nectarine
12 Jonathon Apple
13 Moorpark Apricot
14 Nashi Pear
15 Mariposa Plum
16 Trevatt Apricot
17 Meyer Lemon
These were originally planted with various Companions: Lucerne, Yarrow, Southernwood, Chives, Garlic, Tansy but few remain after recent dry years and now there are old chooks run under them for insect control. This area is bordered with Tree Wormwood and Tagasaste trees.

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Distant Rumblings

Yesterday was No Water Monday, "Monday For the Murray" as they like to say. On current our water restrictions (soon to change again) we are allowed to use sprinklers (I don't use or have any, anyway) on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays because we live in an even numbered house. Those that live in an odd numbered house can sprinkle on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and Monday is left for the Murray, the river we (and many others in SA) get our water from.
With extremely hot temperatures forecast for the rest of the week not watering yesterday was not a comfortable thought.
In the morning Thunder began rumbling in the distance.... then huge thunderstorm drops of rain began to fall!!! A very quick downfall but maybe more to come??

The birds were all happy that it topped up their bird bath but even though there was another storm overnight we barely recorded 1 mm... But they are forecasting more storms for Thursday this week albeit with 37C degree temps... Argh

Saturday, 25 November 2006

Garden Log 25 Nov 06

Moon Planting Greens Today

I have planted the following:
Watermelon Golden Midget direct sown in the Dog Pen Garden Bed
Cucumber Lebanese Mini into containers in poly box
Lettuce Rabbit Ear (from a seed saver in Melbourne)
Lettuce Goldrush Organic
Lettuce Red Velvet
Lettuce All Year
Lettuce Salad Mixed
Basil Purple
Basil Sweet
Fennel Florence Organic
Chamomile Annual
Parsley Curled
Coriander Mexican
Winter Savory
Toothache Plant (Spilanthes acmelia) from a seed saver
Nasturtium Ladybird
Native Everlasting Pink
Sunflower Prado Red
Sunflower Evening Sun
Fragrant Saltbush (Rhagodia parabolica)

Some White African Sorghum seeds arrived via a seed saver in Alice Springs through the Seed Savers Network last week.
I shall prepare a bed for them in the Workshop Garden so they will be there when the chooks go back in at the end of summer. This area also has sunflowers and purslane growing for the chooks as well as gramma, squash, potatoes, tomatoes and egg plants in different beds.

We were expecting a hot day today and we've got it. Predicted top of 36C slightly cooler tomorrow at 31C but right up to 38C (that's 100F) during this coming week not very good for planting young seedlings out without lots of shade protection.

Strawberry Shade Cover

I usually cover the strawberry patch with shadecloth each summer. As the Cherry Tree Net Frame is very secure and the strawberry patch is right next to the cherry tree I thought we could build another shade cover here.
We still had a 3 metre length of poly pipe left over to create another arch to which shadecloth is attached.

This time I decided to sew the ends of the shade cloth into a hem on my sewing machine using polyester thread and a tripple (stretch) stitch and thread the poly pipe through this hem.
This was fitted back on to the new arch and the other end of the shadecloth was trimmed to fit.

Then the shadecloth was taken off the arch and another smaller hem was sewn on the other end.
Back outside to the strawberry patch, the shadecloth was threaded onto the polypipe arch, reattached and the other ends were tied to the cherry tree net frame.

As you can see in the photo below the strawberries are flowering and fruiting well under their new shade structure!

Cherry Tree Net Frame

Updated to add: We now only use white netting over the arches to protect our fruit trees.

With quite a length of polypipe left over after building the shade structure we set about creating a frame for a net over our Stella Cherry tree.
Two years ago the entire crops disappeared over night to the blackbirds so last year we successfully netted the tree but it was difficult to get the net on and damaged the tree slightly.
This year The Frame was built. One piece of 2 inch poly pipe 4 metres long and another 4.5 metres to allow for crossover in the middle. I am sure that 11/4 inch pipe would have sufficed but we had 2 inch left so that is what we used.

Same principle as the shade structure except the two arches cross in the middle creating a sort of dome. The star pickets could not be put exactly square due to the pond being in the way but we were pleased with the result.

Attaching the netting was easier than last year but we will purchase more of the plastic black net before next year which should be even easier to attach as it is not as flimsy as the green one used this year and shouldn't required as much joining/sewing to get the full coverage needed.

All thats left to do now is to wait for the cherries to ripen (soon!) then we can take the netting off and the frame can stay there.


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