Sunday, December 30, 2007
My gardening thoughts have turned to preparing for Winter, which is when the benefits of having our own produce will really kick in - dark green leafy veg to eat very fresh while the supermarkets are hocking a very limited range of produce for a substantial amount of money. Kale, arugula, winter lettuce, leeks, beetroot and various other possibilities are on my list. I'm wondering about Florence Fennel but might be too late to plant it. Too late for celeriac also, but I'll do that next Spring. The raised bed of potatoes has yielded beautiful soil, just exactly like the books said it would. Found a flatworm (i.e. a nematode I think) in there - anyone know what bad things these actually do?
So the winter brassicas will go in the raised bed, following the potatoes according to some optimal plan I read in Spring and remembered. I'm still considering what else will go where in relation to my other garden beds. Patrick has definitely convinced me to take care not to replant garlic in the same bed year on year, but I haven't encountered any suggestions for the best crop(s) to go in after garlic. Hoping Patrick is reading and has some ideas tbh.
I've also been upping my focus on soil enrichment/replenishing. I haven't put as much effort into this as I think I ought to, based on my reading of Linda Woodrow's Permaculture Home Garden book. I really ought to be using my Bokashi liquid more effectively for a start. But I have remembered about the bin full of horse manure tea at the far side of the garage and started to use that in the watering can again. Menstrual blood is a good resource (I never ever said this blog would be for those of a delicate disposition) which until now had been going on the garlic. It is now going on the tomatoes. I do need to go seaweed gathering but as we've been social butterflying around of late to the point of fed upness, I'm focusing for the meantime on activities which are entirely and utterly home based. My other soil enrichment experiment has been to remove the large leaves of the docks in my invasive patch (garden is a little too grand a term for it atm) and place them as mulch around the garlic. Docks have long taproots which bring up good things from deep in the soil and so putting the leaves around the garlic and letting the rain and sun do it's stuff should gift some of those minerals to my family's tummies eventually.
We scuppered our camping plans for Christmas on the 24th when it was pouring with rain and worse was forecast. Instead, we bought a (pine) Christmas tree, some lights, made truffles and got Christmassy. Fionn and I went to Mass on Christmas Eve and loved watching the nativity the children put on.
Also this week our Fionn turned five. We had a fabulous and very special day, again up at our current favourite river. Next celebration project is his kiddy birthday party, to be held mid January when fewer friends are away on holiday. Pirate day, if we don't change our mind.
Friday, December 21, 2007
three kinds of lettuce
One yellow cherry tomato
And maybe even some nasturtium. It is growing wild in my rampant garden patch down by the neighbour's shed. Tastier than the Wandering Jew and Convulvulus it shares the patch with.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I think we have Phacelia flowering. Very pretty. I'm after some borage next year cos it is even prettier and still attracts the goodies.
First yellow tomato today. Giving it another day to fully ripen. Zucchinis with no blossom end rot evident coming on now. Perhaps the longest day feast will include tomatoes and zucchinis from our garden as well?
I planted dwarf sunflowers at the back of the garden. Sometimes I do stupid things.
Too tired to write properly about Bokashi and about Grass Roots magazine. Putting it here though to remind me that I want to, soon.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
As for Christmas, where to start and where to stop? I spent some time talking about my conflicting feelings and frustrations around Christmas last night with my second cousin Jill, a woman very committed to God (i.e. her Christian God). That helped. I'm on a journey to make some sense out of Christmas, to listen and hear a positive message. That might not be a God-led journey but I realised the other night that also it might be. I'm certainly planning that it won't be a journey which contributes to the exploitation of Chinese workers in plastic tat production factories.
I applaud what Oxfam, Tear Fund and World Vision have done in creating gifts which provide chickens, goats, toilets etc (and I did notice Bibles on at least one catalogue). I notice nothing from these mainstream charities aiming to improve the lives of exploited workers in China (to give an example, it certainly isn't the only country hosting horrendous workplace practices). Oooooh no, that would be too political. If anyone knows of a campaign for workers rights in China, then I'd be very pleased to know.
Bought comfrey and a tiny bay tree today.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
I enjoyed it, more than I had expected to. Philippa leaves her settled life in Dunedin for nearly three years and goes volunteering on (mostly) organic farms which are part of the Willing Workers on Organic Farms scheme. New Zealand being a small town where everybody knows someone you know, I loved seeing some familiar names and it also gave me some more names to look for when I'm trying to source New Zealand grown organic produce. For example, I've met the owner of Treedimensions once before when he did a market stall in our small town and acquaintances have also recommended his fruit. I've sent him an email now to go on the list for his fruit boxes from late January.
All that organic food reading got me thinking about bread and gluten and family health again. Several bloggers I like to read have made wonderful looking and sounding bread in recent months: Bean Sprout, Sharon and Rachael especially. Our son Fionn has been on a gluten free diet for the last 19 months, on the recommendation of an allergy specialist and it has helped his eczema. He is also egg free because that seems to help a lot as well. Meals are easy but I am so over cooking gluten free baking and I'm also keen to do some bread making but not necessarily two different kinds of bread at a time. So I am building up to having a go at sourdough and also at low gluten breads like spelt and seeing if he can cope with that okay.
I also have a Bill Mollison ('father' of the permaculture movement) book out of the library at the moment and he has an interesting section on turning annuals into perennials. Mostly by having good ground mulch around annuals and letting a portion of them run to seed and then self-seed in the garden. He also wrote that if you leave garlic in the ground for two years, then you will get a continuous supply, but I can't fathom that as yet.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
One thing I am clear about. Where I live, it is SUMMER. In our final year in the UK, we started to really 'get' English Christmas. The Christmas Day we spent with close friends and their extended family just before we left London was very special and many of the traditions finally made sense at a deep level.
This migrating to the other side of the world with pagan/Christian traditions of symbols of hope and new light and Jesus and the rebirth of the Sungod all intact but stuck now to the wrong side of the calendar which so many Pakeha-to-be did 150 or so years ago is just, well, understandable but at a deep level, to me, odd and wrong.
Something I've been thinking about amongst this is how long we've actually had a tradition of summer holidays. For 'working' people, I suspect only since the industrial revolution. Since we've been away from the land and oblivious to the fact that summer is the big busy time if you are living off the land.
My symbol of the season so far is this:
Summer solstice and garlic harvesting soon. Perhaps my nuclear tribe and I can do something meaningful and non-commercial around that. Like harvest the garlic and have special food. It's really a bit early in the season for homegrown drink (cider couldn't be made until later, ditto for wine and beer - maybe lemonade though) but I'm keen on any suggestions for a special meal with seasonal ingredients. Cooked on the barbecue I think.
of the lawn. Not of anything more exciting.
The plants surrounded by pea straw are tobacco. To the foreground of the trampoline is pumpkin and blackcurrant. The pumpkin is one of two from my Dad. The hulless ones I've got to grow seed on are finally germinating on the kitchen windowsill. Third time lucky. I found a book which advised me that, being hull-less, the Austrian Seed pumpkins need careful help to germinate. Not like your standard hardy pumpkins which spring out of the compost patch whether you invited them or not then. Brighid's punga forest. Then a bean plant, plonked into the lawn. I'll weed and plant around it eventually.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
This may seem maudlin to some but it's the kind of linkage I adore.
I've been reading Gardening with Old Roses from the library and in the section on companion planting (for visual harmony rather than the permaculture interpretation of companion planting) I was interested to read that herbs are often very good partners for old fashioned roses. Many of the herbs Rosmemary Thodey writes about are familiar names to me from the packet of my beneficial insect blend and elsewhere in the herb section of the Kings Seeds catalogue: Daucus Carota, Amni Visnaga, Hyssop, Rue, Feverfew, Viola Miss Helen Mount.
I have some roses out the front of the house - the only part of the section to have any garden flowers in it when we bought the house. These roses have, I suspect, survived years of neglect and I won't be messing with moving them. I have learnt from my recent reading that two of the three are ramblers - they send out shoots all over the place from the base. They are in a very narrow piece of garden which can't be widened - well not unless we relocate the garage. I was thinking that we need trellis for them as I can't attach them to the brick walls. Instead, I've set myself the challenge of finding something to train them over to give some shape to the sprawl (and prevent the sprawl from being squashed by the car tyres) without buying anything new.
It's true - this blog is in desperate need of photos to give some context to the text. I really need to remedy the knowledge gap and learn to download photos myself. Soon, I hope.
This one on common New Zealand weeds has lots of photos to help with identification. I liked the section on the history of weeds in New Zealand in this site.
Didn't notice oxalis (the kind with bulbs) on either site, though I didn't trawl with the finest of combs. I've found some oxalis here in my garden and, mindful of the advice of my father and other gardening relatives, I got a plastic bag and lifted the soil around each oxalis plant very carefully to find every bulb and bag it for the dump (tip/refuse station). If I was being more mindful of not sending anything to the dump, then I would burn it. I wouldn't trust an oxalis bulb anywhere near compost ever. It is a weed that even the pesticide fans find they have to resort to hand weeding to combat it.
I have been following Nikki's blog on her weed project with interest - she talks about putting certain weeds in a black bag to heat up and destroy seeds before they go on the compost heap.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
They look to have a reasonable amount of meat on them and it will be a good test as to whether raising bantams is worthwhile meat-wise. I'd previously assumed not.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
I would like to get some photos up here soon and am making it my blogging goal for next week. The tomatoes, potatoes and garlic are my handsomest plants at the moment with lettuces and zucchinis coming up behind. I got impatient with my marigolds (prone to dying on me) yesterday and bought some plants from the nursery for some instant colour. Did the same with alyssum.
Have I written about false seed beds? I really should have done one with the carrot and onion patch.
I also really should have some magic children sleeping pills so I can concentrate on gardening and garden blogging properly. Favourite Handyman is out being social and owes me proper gardening time tomorrow in bucketloads. If he isn't home soon, then the rate will go up to cleaning the house and cooking dinner as well. Actually that is the first idea to prompt me to think he will stay alive if he gets home later than in the next three seconds.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
You might already understand this from a hypothetical point of view. I write from the rich and fragrant view of lived experience. Don't join me.