Thursday, April 23, 2015

autumn planting and other work

Over the last few weeks we have been busy planting the autumn garden.  We've put in  broad beans, peas, snow peas, and brassicas (cabbages, broccoli,cauliflower and kale - all autumn planting varieties), carrots and winter radishes, lettuce, raddichio and something new to me, Rampion or Rapunzel.  Yes, as in the plant that 'rapunzel's' father stole from the witch's garden in the fairy tale.  It apparently was grown in Italy, Germany and Switzerland and since my ancestry is from that part of the world, and I have kids, it would be worth giving it a go (no - it doesn't take much for me to give a plant a go)!  Have no idea what it will be like, but if it comes up we may get to find out!  The seed is TINY.

planting broad beans is so easy, even a 2 year old can do it!
best times - planting together!
I am also propagating seedlings in trays in the poly tunnel (no its not finished, but we have made one of the seed raising benches so I have somewhere to work!), more lettuces and other salad greens and starting on onions.  We have been digging a trench to get water into the tunnel so that we can start planting.  Fingers crossed we might finish that job off this weekend.  I hope to put in some early potatoes - just to pull up as needed, once the summer harvested ones are finished.

digging the trench with the mattock...

.... and cleaning it out with a shovel...
yes we know there are machines to do this....

We also have coming a concrete water trough to turn into a fish/water lily pond to help stabilize the poly tunnel climate (water is a great thermal mass).  It will be very interesting getting the trough down there, as we don't have a tractor, but hoping that some low tech solution will work out (we did manage to move a 300kg combustion stove on wooden posts as rollers quite some distance - an interesting experience I can say!)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

autumn days

We kind of missed summer this year, which is just fine with me!!  While I do enjoy the warm weather (not hot) summer is a lot of work.  Watering the garden, keeping water up to the animals (and feed as the grass dies), worrying about the water tanks running out and the constant fear of bushfire...  

beautiful autumn sky
Mind you without summer weather you don't get all those wonderful summer crops and sadly this year some things just haven't made it to ripen before the colder weather (the nights have gotten pretty chilly now).  I have some lovely green chillies that would have been a great crop for sweet chilli sauce (probably enough to last all year), had they gotten another month of warm weather...

picking green tomatoes for pickles
Autumn means a lot of pulling out finished (or at least unlikely to finish) crops and preparing the ground for new plantings.  So that's what we have been doing.  Dug up one block of beds and in the process of planting.  Lots of peas (part crop part green manure to improve the beds for spring), and brassicas, onions and root crops like carrots.  I am having trouble with rabbits, so that is something I need to work out still.

tilling the beds with the walking tractor
raking the ground into beds
I have also put in our garlic, which is such a great crop to grow.  It grows well, stores and is harvested before the worst of the dry weather sets in (here we harvest Nov/Dec).  I plant early, as we are pretty cold here, and I like them to get a good start before it gets cold (and light levels drop too much).  I add a lot of lime to the soil (we are very acidic here) and other 'goodies' - coffee grounds, charcoal I pulverise and add liquid fertilizer to, and seaweed meal.  This is my own concoction, but it seems to be helping my poor tired soil.

garlic planting - yay!

autumn is pizza oven time - yum!