Monday, March 30, 2015

Using the whole beast

Every year around winter-time we have one of our home-raised steers butchered at our property by a mobile a butcher.  We fill the freezer with meat, bones and tallow, and we sometimes even keep the hide for tanning.  It is very important to us that, as far as possible, we use the whole beast.  If this is something that you would to do too, here are a list of posts that you may find useful.

eight acres: tips for home butchering and using all the beast
Butcher day is Cheryl's favourite

Butchering tips and tricks

Home butcher vs meatworks
The pros and cons of using a home butcher compared to sending a steer to an abattoir.  We did send our first steer to be processed, but all the rest have been done at home.  The main problem for us was finding a good butcher, but loading the animal on the truck and preparing all the paperwork was a real pain.  Its much easier for us to have them butchered at home (and I think its better for the animal too) if you can find someone who will do it.

When you've decided to go for a home butcher, here's a post about what to expect, what to have organised and what to ask before your butcher turns up.  Our first time was a bit of a disaster because we didn't know what to do, its certainly got easier since then!

eight acres: tips for home butchering and using all the beast

Still not convinced?  In this post on Farmstyle I added up the value of all the cuts of meat we got from our homekill and worked out what they would have cost from the butcher.  Compared to the price of raising the steer and paying the home butcher, the meat was about half price.  Is it worth it?  It definitely works out better for us!

Getting the best from homekill meat
Even better than just being prepared for the basics, you can actually plan to make sure you get the best possible meat, both by the way you raise the animal, how its killed and how you handle and store the meat.  Learn more in this post.

eight acres: tips for home butchering and using all the beast

Cooking and eating all that meat
When the butcher is finished you'll be left with 200-300 kg of beef, but much of it will be cuts that you're not familiar with.  As well as the tasty steaks and sausages that are easy to fry, and roasts to be roasted, you will also have a huge amount of delicious casserole meat and stock bones.  I recommend that you buy a slow cooker (even a very cheap one will do the job) as it makes it easy to use up all this meat, I tell you all about my slow cooker in Real food in a slow cooker.

I also wrote more about eating meat in Should you eat animal products?.  Its a bit late now if you just had a steer butchered, but you might be interested to see that current research shows that meat is not bad for your health and when raised for home butchering, its not terrible for the environment either.

More recipes for cooking all your beef can be found in Arabella Forge's Frugavore: How to Grow Organic, Buy Local, Waste Nothing, and Eat Well (affiliate link) - my review here, and Jennifer McGruther's The Nourished Kitchen (affiliate link), also see her blog Nourished Kitchen) and my review here

The other tricky new cut of meat you will find is organ meats.  Personally I'm not a huge fan, but Emma explains why you should eat organ meats and I did make a nice beef liver pate.  Unfortunately the rest usually goes to the dogs.  They also get the larger bones.

eight acres: tips for home butchering and using all the beast
a beef rolled roast in my slow cooker

Beef tallow is useful too
If you remember on the first butcher day, ask your butcher for the kidney fat, and you should get a nice big slab of pure white fat.  I also ask him to set aside any particularly large chunks from the rest of the carcass.  We cut these up and put them in the freezer to be rendered, as described in this post - Rendering tallow in a slow cooker.  Tallow then keeps at room temperature in jars in our pantry, and we use it to make soap, with recipes in this post - Making tallow soap (with other soap recipes here).

eight acres: tips for home butchering and using all the beast

Don't waste the hide
Sometimes the butcher will take the hide, but our first butcher wouldn't take it, so we decided to try tanning it.  We found it very difficult to find out much about tanning, so I recorded our method in these posts - Tanning a hide (with updates here and here).  We ended up with a usable rug from the first attempt, and an even better rug the second time.  We haven't tried it again because our current butcher will buy the hide from us, so as least it isn't wasted, but its good to know that we can tan a hide if we ever need to again.

eight acres: tips for home butchering and using all the beast
OK this looks gross, but the finished rug was worth it

What's left?
We usually have to dig a hole to dispose of the feet, head and a bit of fatty meat that's not good for tallow or for sausages.  This has become a very fertile corner of our yard!  I prefer burying the waste to burning it as the nutrients stay in the soil (and it doesn't stink).

Have you tried homekill butchering?  Any tips?  And questions?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Postage Stamp Garden - book review

Have you thought about growing vegetables but don’t know where to start? Does it all seem like too much work? What about trying a “postage stamp” garden? This is a system described in Karen Newcomb’s recently revised book The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden: Grow Tons of Organic Vegetables in Tiny Spaces and Containers.  This book starts from the very beginning, planning your garden, and explains how to set up the soil to create a productive garden in a small space. The concept is that with the right plant selection, good soil and minimal labour, a small space can be just as, if not more, productive than a larger garden.

eight acres: review of The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden
see below for image source

This book seems ideal for beginner gardeners who don’t know where to start, and those with more experience who would like to reduce their workload by using some clever techniques. The principles of postage stamp gardening are:

  • Start with productive soil
  • Plant vegetables closely – you fit more in and its better for the soil
  • Utilise crop-stretching techniques
  • Water deeply regularly but infrequently
  • Use organic methods to keep your plants healthy

This book was first published in 1975, but has now been updated and revised. I imagine that these ideas were quite different from traditional gardening at the time, especially with the excitement over chemical fertiliser and pesticides back then. I’m pleased that the book has been released again, now with a detailed chapter on heritage vegetables for small spaces, as its still has much to offer today’s vegetable growers, and there are surely many more growers who are interested in using organic techniques.

I already have an established vegetable garden and by trial and error, I have come to use many of the methods of postage stamp gardening (see posts about my garden here), I have a garden to plan at our new property, so its useful to consider what has worked for me in our climate. Even though we have eight acres (and 258 acres at the new property), our garden is not huge. It consists of four beds, which are mounded up about a foot high, but with no permanent edging. Each bed is about 2 metres by 3 metres. This is larger than the gardens recommended for postage stamp vegetable gardening, and I do find that at times I can only really manage half the space and I let the rest go a bit wild, and it is very sensible to start small until you know what you can handle.  The garden area is completely enclosed in a 1 metre high chicken mesh fence. This keeps out the chickens, rabbits, wallabies and bandicoots.

eight acres: review of The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden
my vege garden (a bit bigger than a postage stamp)

To be honest, I’m think it was just good luck that we ended up putting this garden in a sensible position. Its on a southern slope and probably doesn’t get as much sun as it could, but in our climate a bit of late afternoon shade in summer is a good thing as it lets the garden cool down! With the next garden we will take more time to observe the sun position and make sure we choose the best location. We haven’t decided if we will use raised beds this time, but so far the in-ground beds seem to work ok. I use a lot of large pots as well, so that I can move plants around to suit the season, which is also discussed in the book.

When we first developed the garden I picked up manure from our paddocks by the barrow-load and dumped it on the garden area. We dug up all the grass and then Pete ran over the whole area with a rototiller. We then heaped the soil up into the four beds. I maintain the soil with manure, mulch and compost, mostly collected from our own property. I also use wood ash and some purchased minerals. We have not needed to till the garden again, and as long as I keep up the organic matter in some form, we see good results. There is an odd comment in the book about not using steer manure "because of the salt content", I’m not sure if this is referring to feedlot manure, my whole garden is built on manure from our steers!

eight acres: review of The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden
Strawberries in pots and the massive choko climbing up the fence
- making good use of the space

The book also includes a chapter on climate and knowing when to plant. This is very useful for new gardeners as often the instructions in books or seed packets are misleading and can result in disappointment. It really is important to consider your specific climate when deciding when to plant and this book tells you how to do that.

The chapter on water got me thinking about how we water. It suggests to water for 1-2 hours to get water right down to 3 feet, but then not water again until the soil is dry at 10 inches. We currently water every day or at least every other day because we use our grey water on the garden. Sometimes we top up with our tank water for 30 minutes or so, but I don’t like to use too much water. I think we might we watering too often and not enough volume. Lately I have been experimenting with watering into pipes that I’ve driven deep into the soil. I agree that its important to water deeply and this is something that I still need to perfect in our garden.

Whether you are new to vegetable gardening or want to know how to get more out of your existing garden (with less work), there is plenty of detail in this book to get you started. There is also more information on Karen’s website.

Do you garden in a small space? Any tips to share?

P.S I have included Amazon affiliate links to the book, if you buy anything through these links I get a small percentage to support my book habit and you don't pay any extra, thanks for supporting my blog!

PPS Image Reprinted with permission from The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden by Karen Newcomb, copyright (c) 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. They sent me the book for review.

Monday, March 23, 2015

How I use herbs - chickweed

Chickweed, Stellaria media,grows very happily in my garden, but its one plant that I never actively planted from seed or a cutting, it just appears.  Ostensibly you would expect chickens to eat it, but not my chickens, they prefer lettuce.  Fortunately it has other uses, so I don't mind letting it take over a few corners of the garden.

How to grow chickweed
If you're unlucky enough to not be naturally endowed with chickweed in your garden, a quick google search reveals that you can buy seeds.  I have no idea where my chickweed came from, it seems to be a common weed in our area, possibly seeds came in soil or were blown here in the wind.  Chickweed tends to die back in our hot dry summer, and appears again in winter and after any rain.  It spreads quickly and produces teeny tiny flowers (and presumable plenty of seeds).  I don't do anything in particular to encourage it, but I can usually find some when I need it.

eight acres: how to grow and use chickweed

How to use chickweed
  • Feed it to your chickens (if they are less picky than mine)
  • Use it as a wonderful nitrogen-rich compost material
  • Use it to soothe skin - in a salve or cold tea, it is known to be cooling and soothing for minor burns, skin irritations, and rashes.
  • Add it to salads - chickweed is said to also soothe the digestive tract, it doesn't have a strong taste, kind of like lettuce, but slightly sour.

eight acres: how to grow and use chickweed

eight acres: how to grow and use chickweed
maybe a little too much chickweed!

Chickweed, like purslane, is one of those plants that you probably have in your garden, but didn't realise was useful and edible for both yourself and your livestock (if they are not too picky).

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How to choose a home milking machine

 Are you confused by the different options for milking machines?  Are you wondering why some machines are cheaper than others?  Read about how to choose a milking machine over at my house cow ebook blog.

house cow ebook: how to choose a milking machine

You might also be interested in my series on getting started with homestead dairy

Monday, March 16, 2015

Hydroponics basics

Lately we have been growing tomatoes in a hydroponic system. They are growing stronger and taller than any tomatoes in my garden. I thought you might be interested to know more about hydroponics, the system that we use and the pros and cons of hydroponics in general.

eight acres: hydroponics basics - is it sustainable?
Tomatoes day 1

What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using a nutrient solution, in water, without soil. There are a number of different types of systems, depending on how the plants are supported and how the water drains. See Wikipedia for more detail about all the different systems.

Why use hydroponics?
When you live in a hot, dry climate with sporadic rainfall, a system that consistently delivers water and nutrients to plants naturally results in better produce compared to growing the same plants in soil. It all sounds great in theory, but there are a few issues which I’ll discuss below.

What system do we use?
We have a flood and drain system that Pete set up years ago. He built a trough the right size for a grow tray to sit on top. On the tray we place nine pots filled with media (we are currently using clay balls and vermiculite, and have used find gravel in the past). A small pond pump is submerged in the trough and feeds water through plastic tubing to each pot. We currently have this running continuously as the pump is a bit small, so its just a trickle to each pot. We then plant seedlings in the media, and add nutrient solution to the water. We use an electrical conductivity meter and a pH meter to monitor the nutrient levels and add more nutrient or water as required. The water is continuously recirculated, so water consumption is very low compared to gardening in soil.

eight acres: hydroponics basics - is it sustainable?
Tomatoes week 2

Why did we stop using it for several years?
We haven’t set up our hydroponics system since we moved to Nanango five years ago. There are a few reasons for this:

  • We have never been comfortable with buying nutrients, they are expensive, most are imported, we’re not sure what they are made from, and its hardly self-sufficient to be buying nutrients all the time.
  • We bought an aquaponics system just before we bought Cheslyn Rise, which solves most of the above problems, but we haven’t had a chance to set it up yet, its just not high on the to-do list! (but its safe in a corner of the shed for when we’re ready).
  • The electricity requirements of the pump (which will actually be higher for aquaponics, because it needs a larger pump), there is probably a solar option, but we haven’t had a good look so far.

Is hydroponics organic?
Hydroponics is excluded from organic status by most certifying agencies simply because it doesn’t use soil. There is some controversy around this. Obviously producers of hydroponic produce would benefit from organic certification, and many do not use pesticides anyway (as it can contaminate the nutrient solution). However, from everything I’ve read about soil microbes and their interaction with plants, I can’t help but agree with the certifiers. Hydroponic growing is not natural and requires additional input of balanced nutrients that could be provided by soil microbes, so I don’t think it should be recognised as organic. However, hydroponic growers could establish their own standards to certify for best practice (free from pesticides, organic nutrients used, energy efficiency of the operation etc). Whether consumers can cope with yet another system confusing their food choices is another issue!

However these considerations for commercial hydroponics growers should not discourage the backyard grower. There are certainly things that can be done on a small scale to improve the hydroponics system, and if growing in the soil is not working for you, this may be worth a try.

eight acres: hydroponics basics - is it sustainable?
Tomatoes week 4

What other options do we have for providing nutrients?
Aquaponics is the ultimate closed system, it is a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture. This means that you grow fish in a tank and feed the waste water to the hydroponics system. Nutrients are removed from the water by the plants and the clean water is returned to the fish tank. The only problem is feeding the fish. You can buy commercial fish pellets, but again, that is not self-sufficient. I am experimenting with growing meal worms and compost worms for the fish (and chickens) and there are some other options for plants that can be grown as part of the system and fed to the fish. If this is successful in providing the fish with 100% of their nutrition, then we will have achieved a hydroponics system that is entirely self-sufficient with no outside inputs.

At the moment its not the right time for us to be growing fish, so we have been buying commercial nutrients again (we had some left, so we used that up first and then I popped into a hydroponics shop to get some more). Fortunately now there are some better options for commercial nutrients. The standard nutrients are made from soluble fertilisers, exactly the same as the ones used in conventional agriculture, that’s why the plants grow so big so quickly. You can buy completely organic nutrients, made from plant material and guano only. You can also get hybrid nutrients, which contain the soluble fertilisers as well as organic nutrients such as fulvic acid.

Even if we were to buy the fully organic nutrients, we would still be stuck BUYING something. I can grow plants in the garden without buying anything, and even if they don’t grow as well, at least they are virtually free. I discussed this with my friendly hydroponics nutrient retailer and she said that some people do run their system entirely on compost or wormfarm tea. She said that the system would not be as balanced, and the plants won’t grow as well (she also said that about the organic nutrients I could buy, this sounded just like what a conventional fertiliser salesperson would say about organic growing). She did say that I could start adding some compost tea to the water and reduce the nutrients and see what happens. (I bought this brand of hybrid, and even better its made in Australia).

The tomato plants are doing really well at the moment, so it would be silly to jeopardise their development by fiddling around with nutrients at this stage, but Pete did say I could add a little wormfarm tea. Pete and I have been talking about setting up a second system and running them side-by-side. One would be fed with bought nutrient solution and the other one we would feed with nutrients sources only from our property. This would of course be a competition. I’m really keen to test this: can we grow hydroponics in a self-sufficient system? And if the production is lower, but we save money on nutrients, does the cost-benefit balance out?

What do you think?  Have you tried hydroponics?  Any tips?  Any questions?

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How do you like your eggs?

Recently its come to my attention that not everyone has eggs for breakfast every day.  Pete and I have one or two eggs most days, if the hens have provided enough.  We have a few tricks for preparing eggs quickly, so there's always time before work for eggs (if you're still worried about cholesterol, its ok, they got it wrong, you can eat eggs, read this and come back for my quick egg ideas).  Now, if its just time that's holding you back, here's three quick and easy methods that we use to prepare our breakfast eggs.

Method 1: poaching pan
This is Pete's favourite, I don't really like cooking the eggs in the plastic cups, but it is quick and easy.  We wipe some butter over the egg cups and then crack the eggs in.  Pete likes his yolks hard, so he just sets this up first thing and then gets ready, and 10-15 minutes later his eggs are ready to eat (don't leave them too long, if the water all boils off, the plastic starts to melt, we've been through a few of these sets!).  I enjoy these poached eggs either on toast or just mashed up on the plate.

eight acres: quick and easy eggs for breakfast

Method 2: Flat omelet
This is my preferred egg method.  It is quicker, but you need to hang around and keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.  I break two eggs into a cup and whisk with a fork.  Then I heat some macadamia oil in a small pan (I have gas, but on electric, you might want to start the pan heating first), when the oil is hot, I pour the egg in.  I flip it with a fork after a couple of minutes and its done.  Sometimes I stir in spinach or other chopped greens from the garden.

Method 3: Hard-boiled in advance
If you really only have time to eat and no time to prepare in the morning, you can cook your eggs in advance.  I sometimes boil all my eggs for the week on Sunday night, peel them and then each morning and I can just pull them out of the fridge.  I eat them mashed on toast.  Of course, they are cold this way, but that's quite ok in summer.

How do you like your eggs?  Do you have them everyday we do?  Do you have any tips to share?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Perennial vegetables and permaculture

Most of the vegetables that we buy from the supermarket, or plant regularly are annuals.  That means that they typically only live for one season and then need to be planted again.  Think of all the work involved in sowing seeds and raising seedlings year after year.  I often have a lot of trouble starting seedlings, everything goes wrong, from mice eating the seeds to over-watering and causing them to rot.  By accident, I started to plant perennial vegetables in my garden and they started to do really well.

Perennial plants live for several seasons.  They may die back over winter, but they will regrow from roots without having to start again from seed.  This means that they get a head-start and may produce more over the entire season.  Perennial plants should be part of any permaculture garden because they require less work than annual plants, and the soil doesn't have to be tilled.

The challenge with perennial veges, because most are unfamiliar, is knowing how to prepare them, this often takes some research and experimentation.  I have had some perennials in my garden that grew ok, but we just didn't really use them.  Malabar spinach for example, it was ok, but we preferred silverbeet, so it never got used.  I try not to waste space on vegetables that we don't use, but I do like to have some like warigall greens as a back up, as they will often grow when everything else has withered and died from the heat!

A few perennials that I have found grow well in our climate:
  • Poor man's beans (hyacinth bean)
  • Perennial leeks - they just keep multiplying!
  • Warrigal greens
  • Chokos
  • Walking stick kale
  • Arrowroot
  • Sweet potato
  • That giant chilli bush!

eight acres: growing perennial vegetables
the chilli bush

eight acres: growing perennial vegetables

eight acres: growing perennial vegetables
walking stick kale

eight acres: growing perennial vegetables
perennial leeks, I have to keep splitting them up

eight acres: growing perennial vegetables
warrigal greens - an Aussie native

I spent some time in my Aunty's garden in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, admiring her perennial veges, including scarlet runner beans and rhubarb.  I think I could grow rhubard, but our climate is definitely too hot for the scarlet runner beans.

eight acres: growing perennial vegetables
Scarlet runner beans

eight acres: growing perennial vegetables

And then there are the veges that are not technically perennial, but they self-seed and just keep coming up when they're ready, so that they are semi-perennial and don't require any intervention.

Self-seeding veges in my garden:  
  • Lettuce
  • Silverbeet/chard
  • Broccoli, asian vegetables
  • Herbs like parsley, chervil, dill, borage, calendula

eight acres: growing perennial vegetables
self-seeded brasicas 

Lately I've been reading two Eric Toensmeier books about perennial vegetables (see links below).  I found the first one, Perennial Vegetables, to be a little dry, but with plenty of detail, you can certainly use this as a reference to find which vegetables will grow in your climate, and I have a list that I'd like to acquire.  The second, Paradise Lot, filled in the story, and it was so interesting to read about Eric and his friend Jonathan finding their property, planting their 100% perennial garden and finding their sweethearts.  This was a much more enjoyable read, but light on detail of the plants.  I'm so glad I had them both at the same time so I could enjoy the contrast.  And now I've moved on to Edible Forest Gardening!

eight acres: growing perennial vegetables
Eric Toenmeier's books

These are affiliate links, if you buy through these links I get a small percentage of your purchase as amazon credit, which helps to fund my book habit....

Perennials that I'd like to try:

  • Sunchokes (I had some, but they died, which is supposed to be impossible)
  • Yacon
  • Watercress and water celery (when we have a pond set up)
  • Perennial cucumber
  • Yams
  • Oca
  • Bamboo
  • Pepino

Do you grow perennials in your garden?  Do you find the work load reduced?  Any favourites?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Slow living farm update - March 2015

I'm joining in the Slow Living Monthly Nine again, started by Christine at Slow Living Essentials and currently hosted by Linda at Greenhaven. How was your February?

I’ve been thinking about eggs lately.  Pete and I eat eggs nearly every day, usually two each.  We are very happily ignoring the myths about cholesterol (catch up here and start enjoying eggs!).  I recently discovered that some people think they don’t have time for eggs in the mornings, so I really need to write a post about how to prepare eggs quickly (I have several methods).  The photo is Pete’s poaching pan, which is his preferred way to cook morning eggs.  We have also been feeding eggs to the chicks, and lately Pete has been cooking two for himself and two for the chicks every morning!

Some of you will have heard about our recent cyclone sandwich.  While Tropical Cyclone Lam approached the Northern Territory coast from the west, Tropical Cyclone Marcia was approaching Queensland from the east.  I rushed home from Brisbane early just in case.  Pete and I are pretty quick with our storm preps now, and between us we made sure there was plenty of food, water, fuel and cash in the house just in case we ended up in an emergency situation.  I even rushed around and put away all the lose buckets that are an essential part of any homestead.  Cyclone Marcia took her time getting to us and in the end only dropped 90 mm of rain, so all the preps were unnecessary this time, but good practice because you never know when a real disaster is going to occur.  For example, while I was away for the weekend, there was a small earthquake in the South Burnett (some classic rural Aussie accents in that video!).  The irony being that I was in New Zealand, and by far the more likely one of us to experience an earthquake that weekend!

We finally cleaned out the cheese fridge, as have not had milk for making more cheese for nearly a year now (poor timing and cows that pretend to be pregnant), we should have more milk coming soon!  We opened them all and about half were good.  About half had either mouldy, were too salty or had a weird texture.  I had hoped to REDUCE our plastic bags by waxing the cheese, but I still need to practice getting a good seal (to prevent the mould), so for now we sealed all the good cheeses in vacume bags and froze most of it.  In the meantime, we will instead reduce our power bill by turning off one fridge.

I was really missing my twoworm farms when I’m at my weekday unit in Brisbane.  I hate throwing out perfectly good food scraps, so I was hoarding them in the fridge.  This was not a long term solution!  Pete helped me to modify a bokashi bin that we weren’t using and it’s now a mini worm farm for my city unit.  I could have just used bokashi, but I don’t like having to buy the bokashi powder and it doesn't seem to break down as quickly.  The bin just needed some air holes and its perfect for worms.  I’m using a dish underneath as a moat to keep out the ants and to keep the decking clean.

I shared my garden on Monday in my garden share post.  The little chicks are also growing and moved out to their own chicken tractor now.  And I've been working on my Chicken Tractor ebook, so its growing too, I put the blurb and contents page on the Chicken Tractor ebook site.  I'd love to know what you think!

We have started the next room in our new/old removal house.  Its a slow process, but every hour we spend cleaning and sanding I feel like we are a little closer to moving in.  And it feels good to have the one room done, we can at least see what the house will look like when we're finished.

I have been reading several books by Eric Toensmeier on perennial gardening lately.  I found that I already have many of the plants that he mentions, and there are several more that I would like to try.  I'll write more about this soon, here are the books that I have enjoyed (affiliate links):

My articles for Grass Rootsmagazine have become a regular routine now, and its fun to try to think of topics that will interest GR readers and to write for people who don’t always follow my blog (I find I need to include more context).  Recently I was also approached by Hoofbeats magazine and asked for an article on water quality.  Although I know nothing about horses, I do know about water, so it was an interesting challenge and the editor helped me add in some horse references to suit their audience.  Next they have asked for more information about our solar bore.  I really need to do a whole series on this as I’m sure it will be useful.

Finally, my lovely Pete was kind enough to make it possible for me to pop home to NZ for a weekend to catch up with a long-lost cousin and some very good friends.  It was a FREEZING Wellington weekend and I had to borrow a coat, but it really was wonderful to see everyone.  It was also very nice to be home again because I didn’t see Pete for two weeks (and I missed the dogs).

Phew!  February went by so quickly!  How was it for you?  What are you planning for March?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Garden Share - March 2015

In February we had very little rain until the last weekend, in which we got the tail-end of Tropical Cyclone Marcia and about 90 mm of rain.  I was away one weekend, and so for two whole weeks Pete was in charge of the garden, and he also worked on the Saturday.  This combined with the dry and then wet weather made for an odd combination in the harvest basket when I got home!  Giant button squash, giant beans and not much else had survived.  But it did started to grow again when we got the rain.

I picked the first rosellas and I dug up some arrowroot.  We still have plenty of basil, and now other self-seeded herbs are appearing, including parsley, dill, chervil and coriander.

The harvest basket

so many giant beans...

The giant chilli bush is starting to produce chillies

I can never grow brassicas in summer - not sure if its slugs or caterpillars to blame

pretty happy that what I thought was a cucumber is actually a tromboncino

lettuce for summer salads is going ok

virtually all greens are frizzled apart from this clump of warrigal greens

Pete's hydroponic tomatoes are doing well

Jobs for March - set up some string to tie up the hydroponic tomatoes, keep weeding and mulching, think about sprinkling out some seeds for winter crops.

What are your planning for March?  How was your February?

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