Thursday, October 25, 2012

The greenhouse in Spring.

Speaking to my dear friend Mel recently, I was lamenting my struggle to keep my seedlings moist in the greenhouse. She had sent me photos of her seedlings recently that were planted at least two weeks after mine, and from the same batch of seeds. Mel's seedlings were so healthy looking - so big! I couldn't work out where I was going wrong. I described to Mel how I was suspected I wasn't watering them enough. She asked, "how many times are you having to water them?" I answered "at least four". 


Mel answered "perhaps you need to move the greenhouse into the shade?" 

I hadn't considered the sunlight! 

Ugh, of course!

Without the option of moving the greenhouse, the only choice I had was to erect some form of shade cloth to protect my seedlings from the direct sunlight. It was late on a Sunday afternoon so proper shade cloth was not able to be sourced. I had a six day working week ahead of me, so the problem had to be solved then and there. I found an old sheet that I covered the greenhouse with, securing it in place with pegs and tape (it is still in place a few weeks later!).

The results were noticeable within 24 hours. The seedlings stayed moist the whole of Monday, and only needed light topping up on Tuesday morning. Since then they have thrived and grown faster than I thought possible. Once I have the time I plan to make a more permanent structure of proper shade cloth, but for now my thrifty sheet will do. Alys Fowler would be proud.

Thanks for being my sounding board Mel!

Sam xox

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Around the garden.

A lot has changed in my garden these past few weeks. The winter crops are all but finished, with the last cauliflower being pulled from the soil and only the broad beans remain of the winter just past. The potatoes I planted a few weeks ago have sprouted and grown at least a foot in height. Their beds have mulched with shredded sugar cane and this appears to be helping the soil retain some moisture.

In the bed next to the potatoes I had planted a zucchini in the centre, surrounded by lettuce, then surrounded these with a border of rocket. The idea is that by the time the zucchini will be big enough to fill the space, the lettuce will have been long since harvested. There really is nothing like the taste of freshly picked rocket...

As the sunlight lingers a little longer each day, I am beginning to notice the growth rates of my crops accelerate. Sunlight, combined with good organic fertiliser and regular watering, will ensure that my Spring crop gets off to a promising start.

Sam xox

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Garlic braids.

Once you have dried your home grown garlic, it can be kept for many months before it needs to be used. A great way to store your garlic bulbs is to braid them together once they have dried. This is an easy meathod of securing them together, and does indeed make a pretty kitchen accessory (though you might wish to store them in a dark cool place so they last a little longer). Then simply snap off a bulb from your braid as you need it.

I had seen garlic stored this way before, and knew I just have to give garlic braiding a try myself once I had my first harvest. I laid the dried garlic out and took three to begin with and secured them together using freshly picked onion leaf. I braiding the three a few times, then incorporating new garlic in as the braid grew longer. Once I reached the end I secured it again with a freshly picked onion leaf, and hung the braid up to dry some more.

And I even kept a few loose bulbs to keep in my kitchen now...

Like I said in my first garlic post, I found it was really easy to grow. I can't see why garlic wouldn't grow even in pots, as it really didn't need a huge amount of space or special treatment. Again, if you are going to plant it, make sure to choose locally grown organic garlic as it will not have been sprayed with chemicals.

Sam xox

Monday, October 15, 2012


I introduced you all to Chippenham recently (he is still doing brilliantly by the way). This here is the second duckling we will be keeping. We have called it Yorkshire.

We are hoping Chippenham and Yorkshire will be two females. We will have to wait and see for a few more weeks yet before we will know. Once we have found out we will have to decide if they are viable to keep, as ending up with two male ducks might just be a bit much.

Oh, and it turns out this whole permaculture "ducks in vegetable garden harmony" thing might be a bit of a lie. I caught a few of the ducklings nibbling on some bean plant leaves today. Bad duckies.

Sam xox

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Training pool.

Before they took on the blue shell pool, they practised their swimming strokes in a small plastic container.

Before some were killed. When they were still so tiny.

Sam xox

Moving into Spring.

Last weekend in New South Wales we turned our clocks forward one hour for daylight savings, officially moving us into the warmer months. Thanks to daylight savings, this week I have enjoyed an additional hour of sunlight in the evenings. For me, this has been a real gardening morale boost. Last week I was arriving home from work at 6:15pm, and trying to squeeze watering, weeding and harvesting tasks into the final few moments of light. This week I now have an entire hour to potter around my garden beds upon my return home at the end of the day. And the daylight is going to get even longer still!

~ Salad greens surrounding a zucchini, with potatoes growing beside ~

~ Ducklings playing amongst the nasturtiums ~

~ The beginning of my carrot harvest ~

~ Potatoes ~

~ Zucchini surrounded by rocket and lettuce ~

~ Broad beans coming on ~

~ So much lettuce ~

~ Garlic before harvesting ~

Sam xox

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I am so excited right now! I have just harvested my first lot of home grown garlic!

These bulbs began as single cloves planted out about 6 months ago, from two organic Australian garlic bulb.

Twenty-five cloves has now yielded twenty-five of the most magnificent smelling, purple stained bulbs.

Now, to let them dry out. And then to plait.

Honestly, these were the easiest to grow, and you don't need any special seeds. Simply buy the healthiest looking Australian organic garlic you can find, separate the bulb into its individual cloves (don't peal them), then plant each one 'bottom' end down into your soil. Note: This will not work for imported garlics that have been heavily sprayed, or those nasty little white bulbs that have been bleached.

Sam xox

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Nature can also be unkind.

~ Poor little Chippy ~

I have had this post saved for almost a week, and it was to be focused on our duckling we named Chippenham, or Chippy for short. His nasty run-in with one of the chickens three days after hatching left him missing half of his top beak. When I discovered his injury I cried and took Chippy inside. Nursing him on my bathroom floor the duckling and I Skyped my father in law (a retired agriculture teacher) who assessed Chippy's injury and gently explained to me the little ducklings prognosis. He explained that it was unlikely Chippy would survive given the nature of the injury. We talked about the likely hood of him starving to death, and what method I could use to kill the duckling in the most humane way.

~ Two weeks on, Chippy's beak is now strong and appears to have grown a little ~

Neither Jamie nor I could bring ourselves to complete the task, even though we knew that starving to death would be a horrible way for this little one to die. We gave it back to its mother and allowed nature to take its course.

~ A bundle of energy ~

Nature was kind to Chippy. He has grown at exactly the same rate as his brothers and sisters, is able to drink and eat, swim and clean himself. Nature was indeed kind to him.

But today, nature was not kind to three others. Jamie arrived home from work to discover three ducklings unaccounted for. Cambridge was swimming in the shell pool with four of her brood, but he couldn't find the other three anywhere. Sadly, they were finally found at the bottom of the pond in Oxford's pen. We believe they got into the pond somehow and he has drowned them. We have seen him displaying aggressive behaviours towards the others previously so we assume it was him that drowned them.

Jamie buried them in the garden.

Nature was not so kind today.

Sam xox

* Chippy is named after the English town of Chippenham, in Wiltshire, from where my maternal family originate.