Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Granny Smith Apples

I picked these Granny Smith Apples this morning...
...enough for a Crumble and Cobbler I reckon!
...not one damaged by codling moth...

Total rain for the weekend was 16mm
all caught in that new tank!
Also got the house tank flowing again
for the first time in 4 months.
This morning's temp dipped below zero.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

The best thing one can do when it's raining...

...is to let it rain. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Garden Log 27 Apr 08

The asparagus is changing colour
and is nearly ready to be cut down for winter

Saturday night it actually started raining!
6mm overnight and more on Sunday.
With a cold blast of air on Sunday.
Winter is on it's way.

Despite the recent lack of rainfall the garden has come to life. The sun has lost it's summer force. Evaporation rates are dropping. The Autumn growth flush. The garden is surviving on it's once weekly dripper sessions and little additional hand watering is needed.

I'm grateful again for the wicking beds and boxes I took the time to build. They are growing away and only requiring topping up every two or three weeks.

I've raised two of the outside wicking-beds to give a deeper growing area.

The first one at the end of March has settled down well and the brassicas etc are loving it...minor grasshopper damage but still going strong.

A new one built up on Bed 10 this week has been planted up...

In the Pathside Picking Bed the warmer weather has kept the Cabbage white butterflies and grasshoppers active...hopefully this weekend's weather change will discourage these beasties.

I've soaked and planted a collection of legume tree seeds:
  • Tagasaste - Chamaecytisus palmensis,
  • Acacia - acinacea, A. saligna and A. victoriae
  • Siberian Pea tree - Caragana arborescens
  • Carob - Ceratonia siliqua which although a legume doesn't fix nitrogen here.

That new tank is all connected and filling up with this rain...
...we got it connected just in time!
Thanks Doc!

More on those Wicking Beds and Boxes:
Making the Wicking Boxes
Update on Wicking Boxes
Building that first wicking bed

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

OK We Can Have Some Rain Now...Please!

Our new water tank has arrived...
we just need to connect it up to the workshop roof...
and wait for the rain to start.

Monday, 14 April 2008

That was the Rain...for now!

Garden Log: 13 Apr 08

A good forecast of rain on Friday
brought a total of just over 1mm. neutral
Autumn is really in the air now.
There's a chill in the evenings
And morning temps are dropping.

With a high chance of rain
I pulled back the shade covers in the main veg area,
removing some altogether.
With some holidays coming up
some of the major re-organisation
needs to start happening in here.

Meanwhile out the back the Path Edge Picking Bed has been planted up.
Well advanced seedling brassicas, Broccoli, a survivor Kale (that wilted badly during the heatwave but has now recovered) and one Mini Cauliflower.
These were planted towards the back of the bed.

Along the edge I've planted Silverbeet, Cepar (Apium graveolens var. Secalinum), Welsh Onions, Shallots, Egyptian Tree Onions and Lettuce.

Some Companion Plants of Thyme and Yarrow were added to the Sage, Greek and Common Oregano, Sweet Marjoram and Curry Plants (Helichrysum italicum) that were already there.

Also some Bronze Fennel which was planted out of the way a bit because it's not really a friendly plant.
I also popped in some seeds of Warrigal Spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides) which may or may not germinate depending on the weather.

I have also planted some purple flowering, climbing Roi de Carouby Snow Peas (seedlings) along the trellis so they can grow when the grapevines have dropped their leaves. I also popped a few seeds of Kelveden Wonder Dwarf Peas into the wicking boxes to see if they will grow.

When these were planted it was quite warm so I put some shade cloth over some of the bed and at the first sighting of a Cabbage White Butterfly I popped a curtain over.

Later in the week with drizzly falling rain I removed both these covers. The butterflies have left the brassicas alone for now but I'll keep an eye on them just the same.

Perhaps those Companion Plants
will do their job.


Saturday, 12 April 2008

Sewing Shade Cloth

I've had a few queries recently about how I attach the shade cloth to the black hoses we use as frames in the garden.

Shade cloth is very versitile being available in several densities from 90% people shade to 50% plant shade...in some areas it may be possible to get lower densities but in SA I've struggled for a couple of years to find 50%.
The usual response to my question was...they don't make shade cloth in 50%...and...what would you want that for anyway...argh!!

Stretching shade cloth over frameworks is the best way to work with it. Over wood it is easy to attach the cloth with batterns or special 'gang' type 'nails' that are sold for the purpose.
Sometimes special clips can be purchased for attaching the cloth to round metal or plastic poles. You can use short pieces of the poly hose cut through to act as a clamp.

However I find that it is very easy to sew and that making hems is by far the easiest method of attaching.

Using a strong polyester thread is best and I use the tripple stitch that is actually for sewing stretch fabric on my machine. If I have to join 2 pieces of cloth together I make 2-3 seams depending on how much stress will be on the joint.

The sun will make the thread deteriorate quite fast. I have tried using nylon threads and even fishing line but these didn't last long at all.

I use a double fold hem and the first fold is sewn with a tripple zig-zag stitch. Then the fold is stitched with the tripple stretch stitch.

I measure the width of the hem to fit over the pipes easily and either leave the cloth loose to allow the cover to be moved with the sun or where this is not necessary Doc attaches it with a small 'tech' screw attached through to the poly pipe. This method keeps the cloth secure.

Links to our Poly Shade Structures

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Worm Farm Ninja

Guess who has decided the Worm Farm
is at a comfortable temperature!

Ready to Plant

Garden Log: 6 Apr 08
Much cooler this week.
With a dribble of rain on Thursday 1.5mm...
...hopefully there's more to come!
Time to think about more planting

Preparation continues on the path edge-picking bed with some pelletised manure added and a quick hoe over. Added some of the in-line dripper hose and I'm ready to plant in it!

A tidy up under the back pergola to enable easier access to a table for some salad/greens pots and boxes. The table doubles as a favourite sleeping spot for Lucky Dog on hot days.
3 of the Wicking Boxes have been put here, as these contain Kale which can be picked leaf by leaf when required. With the Celpar seedlings in these boxes taking off they will provide tasty greens
Other boxes here contain Parsley and French Sorrel and other potted herbs Thyme, Mint and Tarragon.
At the end of the table (to catch any run-off water) I've placed some long tubs with Welsh Onions, Celpar and Corn Salad.

The recently planted seeds are germinating quickly...
...but cooler days are coming.

I've cleaned out the old hot house and renewed the plastic on the sides in preparation for winter. The shadecloth remains on the front because we are still having daytime temperatures around 30C (86F)

Next week should see some serious planting happening...
...with or without rain!

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Miner Dive

The Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala
feeds on nectar, fruits and insects
often caught in a mid air dive like this!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

The Chooks Are Going Bald!

It's Moulting Time in Australian Chicken Yards:

Chickens need to replace their feathers each year and sometimes they can go a bit overboard!
Excessive moulting can be due to a protein or vitamin deficiency (or a prolonged heatwave like we've just had is SA) but moulting is normal and they won't lay again until they've grown all their feathers back.

As all the energy from their food is going to make new feather growth and they stop laying eggs during this time, it's important to feed them well even though they aren't giving you any eggs.
I know someone who gets rid of their chooks each year when they moult because they make her garden untidy with all those feathers blowing around. rolleyes

Juliette de Bairacli Levy in her book The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable suggests the following herbs as a tonic for plumage growth feeding:
Dill, Anise and Fennel plus Seaweed, Nettles, Cleavers and all the Onion family including Garlic.
She has some suggestions for brews to rub on to the chooks also featuring Rosemary, vinegar and Southernwood!

Alanna Moore also lists these herbs as tonics for feather growth.
In her book Backyard Poultry - Naturally Alanna suggests the brew of Rosemary (or Southernwood) plus Vinegar (cider vinegar is good) can be added to the chooks drinking water on a weekly basis.
That sounds easier than applying it externally. wink

Keep up their feed with plenty of protein (meatmeal, cooked soya or fishmeal in their mash), sunflower seeds but not too much corn. Include lots of healthy greens and a good supply of calcium.

Alanna's recipe for a good tonic for moulting hens is Linseed:
1 cup simmered in 1 litre of water for 20mins until it forms a jelly and give each chook a dessertspoonful of this jelly with a wet mash.
Make sure you cook the linseed though and don't give them too much. eek

Look after your girls during this time, keep them warm if it's suddenly gone cold, keep them dry and feed them well...soon they be back to themselves with a whole new outfit of beautiful new feathers.

For further posts on feeding chooks:
Chook Mash here
Chook Forage/Fodder Plants here
Chook Sprouts here


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