28 October 2012

This week in the Country Garden...

...I gardened in the rain yet again.  Although when it got really heavy I retreated inside with a glass of sparkling to watch the rain over the vines, until this rainbow that told me it was time to get back outside!
 I harvested 3.5kg of broad beans, on top of approximately 1kg already harvested and another 1kg still left on the plants until next week.  Now I just have to pod and freeze most of them...
I sacrificed some of the brassicas that have been a bit disappointing this season, to try to get a crop out of the rest, creating a bit more light and air around them, and providing space for the new season planting.  Many of the cabbages haven't yet formed hearts, or have been savaged by slugs.  The broccoli which thrived, outgrew the brussels sprouts, so they didn't get enough sunlight and space to grow.  I did harvest the first cauliflower though, with a couple more on the way.  I've planted zucchini, squash and cucumber seedlings under the remaining brassicas, just to get them in the ground.  Hopefully they can survive together for the next week or two.
The broad beans were hit badly by wind in the last couple of weeks, so after harvesting all the beans that were ready, I pulled out everything that was finished and tied the remainder together to stakes to get them through another week or two of growing time.  Not very pretty at this stage, but my love of broad beans outweighs the aesthetics!!  Even though I planted out the broad bean bed in phases, they all seem to have ripened at once.  I also tried three varieties, with seeds from the Diggers Club producing the most.  I must remember to just plant those ones next year.  The metal towers in the photo below are to grow Scarlet Runner Beans up to give height and colour in the garden this summer.  The flowers last year were superb, even though the beans were rubbish!
The tomatoes are all in.  I have now staked them all and planted basil, parsley and marigolds around them.  After we seriously over-planted the tomatoes last year, we've tried to be sensible this year, spreading the plants out and just putting the herbs around the edge of the beds.  The potatoes in the third new bed are thriving, with straw being added to build up the bed as much as possible.  As soon as the other brassica bed finishes we'll plant out that as well, hopefully giving us a much longer potato season than last year.
We try to keep up a good supply of lettuce for the restaurant all year.  We've managed to keep the oakleaf going all winter and the rocket is rejuvenating after the last lot finished.  Last year we did really well with cos lettuce, but have struggled this year, expect for this one beautiful specimen that no-one can bring themselves to pick because it looks so great!!
My planting plan (that I have rejigged a bit this week as we planted an extra bed of tomatoes not originally planned) says that it's time to plant the capsicums, but the weather this Spring has had other ideas.  The bed they are to go in still has last season's brassicas, and the seedlings are progressing slower than expected.  Hopefully with a bit of warm weather this week both will get their acts into gear and realise they are running behind my schedule!

A Day at Taranaki Farm

Yesterday we joined a tour of Taranaki Farm in central Victoria lead by the "World's most innovative farmer" (according to Time Magazine) Joel Salatin.  It was a great opportunity to learn more about innovative farming practices that focus on thoughtful regenerative and integrated systems, applicable to all scales of farming.  

13 October 2012

Still Broody

At the start of September I wrote about our chicken Mavis who had just started to go broody.  At that stage it seemed that it was nothing to worry about, just a strong natural instinct in a breed known for their good mothering skills.  So we basically let her be, making sure that we took away the eggs from the other two so she didn't get a chance to bond with them, and kicking her off the nest a couple of times a day to make sure that she ate and drank.  But little did I realise her commitment to having babies.  It's been about 6 weeks now, and she's still at it.  The extent of that determination is amazing.

07 October 2012

Slow Living Month - September

Flowering Blueberry plant
Suddenly I turned around and it was the end of the first week of October, don't know how that happened!  Anyway, with apologies to Christine at Slow Living Essentials for my slackness this month, here's my contribution to the Slow Living Journal.  You can check out what Christine and all the other contributors have been up to here.

Nuts about Spring Food

Spring Pie
Have you ever had the "What is your favourite nut" discussion?  In my experience everyone has a definite favourite.

01 October 2012

This Week in the City Garden

Lemon Thyme
And now a more positive post on new growth and beginnings in the City Garden.  The crazy Spring weather (it snowed in the nearby hills on Saturday but will be 27 degrees later this week!) has meant happy times for all the plants.  There are flowers, new buds, bees and seedlings all taking off:

The last of the sprouting broccoli is going to seed which I'll
collect (and besides the flowers are beautiful!)
Rocket, cress and coriander seedlings

The potato patch (being helped along with rich fertilizer
from the chook shed straw)
Some potatoes growing in a bag as an experiment
Apple blossom
The Echiums are now flowering
The first buds on my beautiful Crepe Myrtle came out yesterday!
New growth on the bay tree
The sage is about to burst into flower