Thursday, August 16, 2012

Spring Seed Planting

This spring we have chosen to extend our growing area and use hugelkultur (raised garden beds/terraces) for planting.  We already have a number of existing raised garden beds using corrugated iron.  These existing garden beds will be used for our normal planting.  They already have been planted with garlic, lettuce, parsnip, coriander, parsley, thyme, tomato and capsicum.
cardboard around trees

The planned hugelkultur garden beds will provide more area to grow veges and herbs.

Cardboard will be used as the base of new raised garden beds. Lantana and other tree trimmings will be placed in a thick layer on the cardboard.

On top of the layers of cuttings, we will need a layer of growing medium and mulch.  This will consist of 1 part dried cow manure, 1 part mushroom compost and 2 parts coir mulch specific for growing plants in pots.  To this a variety of seeds will added. With the seeds we haven't taken into consideration companion planting or guilds  as we have a number of seeds that are close to or past their 'sow by' date that we have mixed together to add to the growing medium. The seeds are:-

beetroot
bok choi
calendula
capsicum
celery
coriander
cucumber
dill
eggplant
gypsphollia
lettuce - mixed
marigold - french dwarf double
mesculin salad mix
mustard
nasturtium - empress of india (red)
nettle
oregano
parsley - flat leaf
rocket
silverbeet
spinach
spring onions
swan river daisy
tarragon - mexican
tarragon - russian
tatsoi
tomato - cherry
tomato - yellow pear
watermelon - sugar baby
zucchini



Saturday, August 11, 2012

Spring Garden Planning

new apple trees
Have you heard of Sepp Holzer? What about hugelkultur raised garden beds?  

Here where we live in Wangi its been raining and very windy these last few days.  So I have been spending time searching the web for practical garden advice to use in our Spring Garden Plan.

I am very interested in hugelkultur.  This is using raised garden beds/terraces for planting. 

Sepp Holzer also has u-tube videos about raised garden beds for slopes. 
cardboard around trees
We are going to experiment in our back yard - very steep slope, but we will not be making the garden beds higher than about 50cm - any higher and there may be a chance of the earth sliding down the hill.
  • We have a number of areas in the backyard where we have laid down very thick cardboard around trees.   
  • These areas of cardboard will be used as the base of new raised garden beds.  
  • The lantana has taken over so we will be chopping it down and placing a thick layer of this on the cardboard
  • Will need to consider which way the bed runs.  Our slope is west facing but we need to consider water run off etc.
  • August is a time for trimming trees and shrubs here, so we will be cutting back a lot of trees and using as another layer on the cardboard.
  • On top of the layers of cuttings, we will need a layer of growing medium and mulch.  This will consist of 1 part dried cow manure, 1 part mushroom compost and 2 parts coir mulch specific for growing plants in pots.  To this a variety of seeds will added.
  • With the seeds we haven't taken into consideration companion planting or guilds.  As we have a number of seeds that are close to or past their 'sow by' date that we have mixed together to add to the growing medium.
Grassed mound around albizzia

We already have a few raised area where the builders deposited soil that they dug out for the water tanks' concrete slab.  We have already planted an albizzia tree and an apple tree there.  Grass has taken over the rest of the area so we will be putting down some newspaper and then some of our growing medium with seeds. 
Once the westerlies (winds) die back, we will start on our new spring garden plan.

More about the seeds we are planting soon.

Here is a link to hugelkultur


Monday, June 25, 2012

Renewing Furniture

 Renewing furniture at The Terracotta Cottage

This new post at my other blog The Terracotta Cottage show details on how we are updating our bedroom and renewing our old furniture. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Storing The Re-Cyclables

Garlic ready for planting out
Where do you keep all the things you collect to recycle?  How do you save things to re-use without your house and garden looking like a junk yard? 

At the moment we are saving the following:- 
Paper and Cardboard 
Cardboard and shredded paper
We practice the art of 'no-dig gardens'.  So we save all the paper and cardboard that comes into the house.  Our neighbour just gave us a very large bundle of old cardboard boxes. 

Recycling
Bottles and Cans
Have you heard of Earthships.  They fascinate me.  'Radically sustainable buildings made with recycled materials".   -   Earthship Constructions Material Information.  We plan to build a few small retaining walls using the basic principals for non-structural walls. So we are collecting bottles and cans to use. 

Other Various Containers
Parsnip seedlings
I like to save various container to re-use.  Plastic containers can be used for containers to raise seedlings.  I save the cardboard centre of toilet rolls.  I use them for seed planting.  I fill the bottom half with combination of equal parts of a good quality potting mix, cow manure and mushroom compost.  I then put in some water saving crystals and then fill with seed raising mixture.  Once the seedlings have develop, I plant in the garden, toilet roll centre as well - very little root disturbance.  It is quite easy to use up 100 toilet roll centres very quickly when seed planting.

So you can see we have a problem.

How do you store all this until you have a chance to use it?  It takes a lot of bottles and cans to make a small retaining wall.

Is this why we became a throw away society?

How do we balance the ideals of re-cycle and re-use without becoming a hoarder with 'junk' everywhere?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cuttings

It often becomes quite expensive to buy all the plants you want for your garden. You also become focused on a specific range of plants. Its easy not to notice some wonderful plants That's why it can be a great idea to get plant cuttings from a friend. The plants will only cost you a bit of time and effort; the range of plants in your garden is greatly increased and you get to spend a wonderful time taking cuttings and talking plants with your friend.

Recently, an aunt offered me cuttings from her garden. I spent a wonderful afternoon with her going through her garden. She was very generous and gave me lots of cuttings.

Once I was home I placed the cuttings in a seaweed and water solution. The next day I potted up about half the cuttings, first dipping the ends into organic honey - this helps with root development. I haven't had a chance to get back to the cutting since then but they are all looking fine.




Thursday, May 3, 2012

Garlic

I have just been reading an article by Kate at Vegetable Vagabond about preserving garlic.  This reminded me of a roasted garlic recipe that we love.  The recipe is from The Harvest Pantryby Barbara Beckett. I absolutely love this book.

Whole Roasted Garlic in Oil


750 g  whole garlic bulbs
3  to 4 cups olive oil

Put the garlic on a greased baking tray and put into a preheated oven 150oC for an 1 hour or until the cloves are tender. ( I like the garlic cloves to be really soft ).  Remove and allow to cool. Pack the bulbs into large sterilized jars and pour oil over to cover.  Seal and label.

(I always add a small amount of citric acid at the end - 1/8-1/4 teaspoon - depending on the size of the container)

Variations

Roasted Garlic Paste

Once the garlic has been roasted. I take a few of the garlic heads and squeezed the garlic from them.  The garlic will be in a paste form.  I fill a small glass container with the garlic paste and add dried herbs (thyme, rosemary, basil, bay leave, peppercorns - whatever combination suits).  Top the container up with olive oil.  I then add about a 1/8 teaspoon of citric acid.   Seal and label.  Keep in the fridge.  I am not sure how long this will actually last as it goes very quickly.  My favourite recipe using Roasted Garlic Dip is:-

Roasted Garlic Dip


Roasted Garlic Paste (approximately 1-2 teaspoons)
Maple Syrup (approximately 1 teaspoon)
Yoghurt (drained) or cream cheese  (approximately 1 cup)
Herbs and seasoning to taste.   (Thyme and/or oregano are great)

Combine all ingredients

This recipe can be adjusted depending on the flavour and texture you require.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Banana Plants

Banana plants April 2011
Banana plants April 2012
One year on and the banana plants are looking great. Still waiting for any sign of fruit or new suckers.