27 April 2014

Some New Members of the City Garden Family

We've had our two little Pekin Bantam chickens for over two years now.  They are well and truly part of the family and have been a fantastic addition to the City Garden.  

However the reality is that as a heritage breed that still have the instinct for being great mothers very strong in them, and being jumpy little things, we don't actually get many eggs.  When they are laying, the eggs are small (about 40g each) but delicious.  But they only lay every two or three days; are very often broody, which I've written about before (so stop laying); at this time of year they moult slowly but steadily for seemingly months (so stop laying); and are very easily put off by a myriad of other little issues that upset them or their routine (so stop laying!).  With them heading into their third laying season, they are also likely to lay even less eggs this year.
A small but delicious bantam egg
We've been vaguely thinking about getting another one or two chickens for a while now.  For all the fun of having the two Pekins, the idea of actually getting a regular egg supply from our own chickens is pretty tempting and really, the point of it all.  So we've been looking at which type might be the most appropriate, and considering how best to integrate a couple of newies with Red and Blacky, without it turning very nasty, and without the garden being completely decimated (we got the bantams primarily because of their feathered feet which can't do much digging damage to the garden).

This weekend we were driving in the country and stopped off at a farmers market just to get some morning tea.  But there was a woman there with a stall selling 10wk old  pullets, just the most average white and brown cross-breeds (New Hampshire crossed with Rhode Island Reds or Leghorns).  We chatted with her, thought about it, walked off, had a cup of tea, thought about it a bit more, and then went back.  By then she had just two white ones left.  So we bought them!

On getting them home, they were put into a cage in the garden so that they could see the Pekins and each group could get used to the other, without danger.  Once it got dark and the Pekins went to bed in their house we sneaked the two newies into the house, and after a bit of initial ruckus they all settled down for the night.  This morning, after a bit of surprise at discovering the two extra bodies in their house, everyone got up and jumped out into the garden.  The newies settled in and started eating and exploring straight away.  While the two groups have been a bit wary of each other during the day, there hasn't been any grief, and just a few minutes ago the two newies managed to find their way back into the chook house and everyone is settling in for the night.

This might actually work, and I can't wait to get some eggs that actually fill our beautiful egg cups!

17 April 2014

This Week in the Country Garden

The last of the eggplants were harvested, what an amazing
crop from just one punnet of seedlings
Purple Sprouting Broccoli seedlings under protection from
 white cabbage moths
Peas have started to sprout (as have the broad beans)
These capsicums look so inviting but we are holding off picking
them until we finish all the yellow banana capsicums that were
harvested a couple of weeks ago.
Another three buckets of tomatoes were harvested this week.
If the weather holds out we should get at least one more week
of tomatoes before they finish
A lone pumpkin from several plants.  It's still quite small, not
sure if it will grow to an edible size at this stage of the season
The blueberry has produced another flush of fruit that will
hopefully ripen
The raspberry is still producing a few berries, but only enough
for a snack as we walk around the garden
The mystery vine from the compost looks like it is canteloupe
Finally a few strawberries from our two plants, but all at risk
of being eaten by rabbits as they push through the wire-mesh
Celery seedlings
Leek seedlings (including two perennial leeks)
planted into the bed vacated by the eggplants.   
Garlic crop planted under the rose-bushes
with protection from rabbits

11 April 2014

Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Christine from "On the Ning Nang Nong" blog, who is the winner of my  giveaway, celebrating my first watermelon harvest.  Christine is planning to try growing rock melon for the first time next year - I think she means cantelope ;)

Christine, can you please email me to let me know your address to send you a copy of "One Magic Square".

06 April 2014

02 April 2014

An Exciting First Harvest and a Giveaway

Last week we harvested our very first (and sadly only for this season) Moon and Stars Watermelon. It was a revelation in taste and texture, so crisp and juicy and sweet, unlike any watermelon I've tasted before.  Last night we finished off the last little bit, about a week after first cutting it open, and the texture had dulled to be very similar to watermelon that I've bought at the shops.  So my tip is, if you are able to grow watermelon, or get hold of one that has just been picked, it's definitely worth it!

And so on to the Giveaway.  I recently found a copy (in excellent condition) of my all-time favourite gardening book, One Magic Square by Lolo Houbein, at a second-hand bookstore and couldn't resist buying yet another copy of it.  I've bought several in the past as presents for friends who are embarking on a vegetable gardening adventure, and I know I've raved about it before as being a brilliant resource.  

To celebrate my first-ever watermelon harvest and the rest of what has been a bumper season of crops in the Country Garden, I've decided to give this copy away to one of the CGCG readers in Australia (sorry it's too heavy and expensive to post overseas).  Just leave a comment below and tell me what vegetable or fruit you'd love to try growing that you haven't attempted before, and I'll select a random entry next Wednesday 9 April.

Good luck!