Thursday, November 19, 2009

preparing for whats to come.

Its been hot and dry (historically -and not that long ago- in this part of the world, november was a quite wet month... but as is happening all over the world, the weather patterns are changing -wonder how much they will change once the north pole is gone - will soon find out in the next few years....), in neighbouring South Australia they are bracing for a very bad fire day today(its not even summer yet), and its the first year (after the terrible fires last year) that we now have a new fire ban category - 'catastrophic'... Oh boy.... Thankfully its not so bad here (yet), and today although warm isn't in that 'catastrophic' category. There is talk of good rain over the weekend, and predictions of good rain over the new year period (I am crossing everything that they are right).

Aside from the fear of summer, things are going well here. Lots of work to do, but I think when you own land, its just like that no matter how organised you are. Over the weekend, if the rain comes like they say, I am going to do a mass plant out - I have about 35 tomatoes, and many zuchinni and pumpkin seedlings to put in, more bean seed, medicinal/culinary herbs and some small shrubs (its a bit late to plant trees out now, but these will be going in the garden close by, where I can give them (some) water).

We have a hen sitting on a clutch of eggs. Its the first time I have had the opportunity to hatch some chicks so I am doing what they say not to do and 'counting my chickens before they hatch'! I know that they all wont hatch/survive, but it will be nice to get a few hens out of it. We have moved the mum-to-be to an old rabbit hutch, so she can sit in peace, and the other hens don't keep laying in her clutch (a good way to end up with lots of rotten eggs!)

I took some photos of my new barnevelders (not so new, we have had them for a few months, but they are now starting to look like they are supposed to, instead of looking like youngsters)

Here is the rooster and the largest of the pullets

She has such beautiful double lacing on the feathers, I am crossing my fingers they will also lay the chocolate coloured eggs that many (but not all) barnevelders lay.

The garden is going along well, all things considered. It takes a few years to get the soil good - unless you are blessed with good soil (unlikely in this country, as centuries of abuse is taking its toll on everything - ask the bees...). I am adding lots of manure (I use horse, alpaca and goat) compost, seaweed and whatever organic matter I can get. The more organic matter in the soil, the more water it can hold and the more 'alive' the soil is, and as much as it seems to freak some people out, the soil really does need that life (the worms, bacteria, fungi etc) to make stuff grow. Unfortunately, because we don't use chemical fertilzers on our land we are inundated with dung beetles, so collecting manure for the garden is now a difficult task, it just disappears!!! Funny, as many of the local farmers (including our neighbours) have had to 'buy' dung beetles to deal with the abundance of manure that doesn't break down.... (it really isn't so hard is it - don't poison the life out of the land and the bugs and beetles wont die out...).

I have been mulching my 'wild' garden with cut grass and alpaca fleeces and fallen leaves and anything I can find. Basically the soil needs a 'blanket' to keep out the extreme heat and keep in some moisture. Here is a photo of our daughter 'checking' the raspberries (she can't wait for them to turn red!)
The 'wild' garden is a largish garden with a wide variety of flowers, herbs, perenials (such as raspberries, strawberries, loganberries, asparagus), annuals (such as mustards, brocolli, silverbeet, lettuce, nasturtion and soon tomatoes and zuchinni) all mixed together. I am letting everything go to seed as I find that plants grown from seed in the location they choose themelves always do better than plants I raise as seedlings and transplant. I want this to become a jungle of useful plants, densely planted, every bit of soil covered, wont to be too long.

I also have a large and more formal vegetable garden (approx 4mx16m), where I am growing potatoes, carrots, staked tomatoes, beans (green and for drying), and an attempt at growing onions and garlic (normally plants I grow well, but now realise that the soil maybe too acidic for them - oh well, there is always next year). In autumn, once these crops are finished I will probably plant a green manure crop over this entire garden. Its quite shaded (an asset in summer), so doesn't grow well in the winter anyway.

Anyway, all this writing about my garden is giving me 'itchy' fingers, I want to get out there right now and plant out everything, but I really must wait for the rain (and the right time of the lunar cycle!). Might start researching rain dances, I think we might need to this year.


  1. I love the idea of your wild garden!

  2. The garden looks and sounds as if it is doing fine. Interesting thing about the dbeetles!

    When we first stared our garden - our soil was heavy, clay type...and full of rock. It took us years to build it up, but it was worth it. I'm a big believer in composted manure (esp. chicken)and rabbit(higher in nitrogen than horse!). ...and always careful not to spread or till within 90 days of harvest of a root crop. And the green manure is wonderful for holding the topsoil in the off months. Curious as to what seed will be your cover crop?

    Keeping my fingers crossed for your hen--and watching for little peeps!