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The Garden in Mid Winter

 

2 July 2012

It’s mid-Winter here right now and the garden has slowed right down, taking a big breath. There is a load of food in the garden, and not much work in the garden for a few weeks yet. Winter here is a lot colder and far more frosts than Northland!

We are eating a huge range of winter salad greens, endive, Winter lettuce, Joe’s lettuce, Miner’s lettuce, parsley, coriander, fennel, corn salad, spinach. We’re also eating a range of carrots, beetroot, Aomaru Koshun daikon turnips both Ohno Red and Henry’s White, plus loads of ferments made in the Autumn. And of course all the stored potatoes, kumara, pumpkins and Jerusalem artichokes. Although it was a terrible summer we are certainly not going hungry!

This is the first year in ages that we have our chickens hard out laying by early July. It has been hard looking after them well whilst shifting around so much but we got it sorted this year! We have been feeding them a little seaweed meal and chicken minerals everyday and they only took 3-6 weeks to moult. Their bright colours are back again and they are back onto the lay. We have Golden Wyandottes, and they are such beautiful birds. Their eggs aren’t as large as the Leghorns but they go clucky and hatch our replacements and fatten up well for a roast!

Over the next few weeks we will be planting our orchard. The fruit trees will go in at quite wide spacings (6m) so that we have plenty of room for all the legumes in early Spring. Our intention is that in addition to our orchard providing fruit for us, it will also provide as many seeds and sources of protein as possible for the chickens. We want to get off the ‘buying grains’ treadmill as fast as we can. We have worm farms, where we grow worms for the chickens which are fed our own cow manure, and that has proved very successful so we are going to increase the size of that operation to provide the bulk of the chickens winter protein while the comfrey is dormant.

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Still Gardening in the Rain

12 May 2012

Keeping in mind it is still raining daily here, all night last night, and we are gardening in wetlands, on free draining pumice soils! We are eating:

  • Havelock Sugar peas
  • Daikon, (as we have been all summer!)
  • Juwarot carrots (very good carrots)
  • Golden Beetroot and Bulls Blood beetroot
  • Bloomsdale Spinach
  • Odell’s lettuce
  • Welsh Bunching onions
  • Salsify
  • Scorzonera
  • Red Kuri and Delicata pumpkins
  • Stored California Red and Pukekohe Long Keeper onions
  • stored kumara and potatoes
  • Dalmatian cabbage
  • Land Cress
  • White Icicle radishes

So for all the wet cloudy weather we are not starving! The cow is still giving milk, but the chickens have stopped laying now, however it is time to eat the fat geese and ducks in the paddock.

All four quarters of our garden is are planted up in their winter crops, except the final beds that are being planted in Tic beans and broad beans for spring eating. One section in heavy feeders for Winter, early Spring eating (brassicas, salad greens celery fennel etc), one in legumes (peas, broad beans and Tic beans) and root crops (carrots, daikon, beetroot radish, salsify, scorzonera), another in grains for carbon and eating, the other in leguminous carbon crops also for eating and compost. Because of all the rain and full moon over the past week we did a solid fertilise over all beds with 100g of EF:Nature’sGarden per sqm. We also did a foliar feed of EF:GrowthFoliar. Things are still growing and the brix’s are around 10. I’m so looking forward to being able to use my own mineralised compost in Spring.

This Winter we will be fencing our house site, planting the orchard/food forest, and designing and building our animal systems so that we can move the chickens from their current site where they are clearing a patch which we will plant alfalfa next Spring.

I’m looking forward to the quieter energy of winter, a time to reflect and plan, read learn research etc.

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Feeding the family

 

Feeding the family

29 April 2012

We are eating a great range of vege right now. Aomaru Koshun daikon are my favourite, raw, cooked or fermented! Golden beetroot, landcress, carrots of many colours, Havelock North Sugar Snap peas, heritage potatoes, kumara and pumpkins from storage, and fermented tomato paste put aside, lettuce, chives, onions both red and brown plus Welsh Bunching Onions, leeks and herbs. … I’m happy! Together with our own local fermented vegetables (my favourite is the recipe above at this time of the year), meat, fat, bones for broth, eggs and milk for kefir and feta, we are almost spending nothing at the shop at all.

We are just now finishing double digging the last 30m of our vegetable garden. That will make it 200sq m and we will then have it in a clear rotation with 50m in each section. This winter we have:

  • 50m of carbon crops, Oats and vetch and hulless barley..
  • 50sqm of legumes planted as carbon crops mainly lupins and Tic beans
  • 50sq m of legumes and root crops for eating over the winter and early spring we have daikon (Aomaru Koshun), carrots (Benhorn), beetroot (Bull’s Blood and Golden), radish (White Icicle), salsify, scorzonera and shellout peas WF:Massey, and Havelock Sugar Snap peas and Tic beans.
  • The forth 50sq m is in winter heavy feeders such as Dalmatian cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli purple sprouting, savoy cabbage, and a host of other greens like corn salad, miners lettuce, Florence Fennel, Dalmatian parsley, coriander, Bloomsdale spinach, winter lettuce, puha, dandelion and more. The garlic is about to go into this section along with shallots tree onions and Pukekohe Long keepers a little later.

I have worked out carefully the cost of fertilising this 200sq m garden for the first six months. The details of how this was made up will be in our next catalogue. The cost was $6.36 per sq m including GST and all solid and liquid applications and including the Compost Minerals and Microbes and Seaweed Meal that went in the three compost heaps we made whilst developing the garden.

That is a total of: $1272!    (plus $100 worth of seed, makes it $1372)

It took only three months before we began getting a serious return from this garden (because we did such a good job of the soil preparation) and so there were only three months when we would have needed to be buying vegetables in the shops whilst also investing in the garden.

Only ½ of the garden needed to be developed to have begun getting a return, so that means in order to develop a garden similar to this you would need around $500 plus a garden hose, spade,fork, watering can and Niwashi and hula hoe or similar. If you buy top quality gear that will cost around $300 -$400.

A total investment of around $800 – $900 in your families health! How much do you value nutrient dense food, soil health and the health of your family?

For the next 6 months it will cost a lot less, and the costs will continue to decrease, in relation to me putting energy into building great compost. I will continue to keep you in touch.

PS. The prices I am using are the full retail prices Koanga Gardens sells it’s products for including GST but not including freight as I have none to pay. Most of you would which will increase the costs.

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Planning for Resilience

1 April 2012

I’m still going on about the need to seriously plan for resilience in our gardens. Would you survive through to next Spring on the produce you harvested from your garden this Autumn? What do you think you need to learn to get it better next season?

  • I’m going to try harder to get my Brix levels up. I’m going to plant a wider range of crops, my favourites but also those I know will perform in adverse conditions.
  • Because of the cold Spring up north our kumara tupu went in very late, and then the lack of sun this Summer has meant another disaster of a crop. Potatoes liked the conditions though, so they did well.
  • Queen of the Blues Beans are still going, very impressed!
  •  Aomaru Koshun Daikon have been the outstanding star of our summer garden with their ease of growing, speed of maturity, incredible taste raw and cooked, and their looks!
  • I’m planting my winter garden full on now 10m of hulless barley for seed to eat as a grain and also as a carbon crop, 2x 10m beds of oats and vetch as carbon crops and 2x 10m beds in Tic Beans as a carbon crop (which I also get to harvest from).
  • In the next section of the garden I’m planting carbon and compost crops 2x 10m of lupins, 2x 10m of oats and 10m of rye.
  • The next section are legumes and root crops. I have Tic Beans, broad beans, lots of peas, beetroot, carrots, daikon, salsify, scorzonera and turnips.
  • In the heavy feeder section I have a huge range of brassicas and greens, a little of everything in the catalogue, to make for different salad or greens every night if we feel like it!

1.4.12_006 1.4.12_007

Peas, carrots, beetroot turnips, daikon, salsify and scorzonera ready for winter and kumara and potatoes about to come out. Morning Glory Crimson rambler is stunning at this time of the the year once the beans die back.

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Winter brassicas with Balta Balensa clover as a nitrogen fixing winter ground cover.

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The Harvest Continues

19 March 2012

No pics this week, my camera is broken and it’s raining anyway!

My February value of vegetables harvested was $401 ! This was very low because of such big crop failures associated with the rain and no sun etc…see below… however it is still a huge saving on the grocery bill, and we have almost paid off the cost of putting the garden in after 16 weeks since digging the beds. This summer has been a huge wake up call…… this would have bee n a starvation year 200 years ago. We need to learn from the failures and successes of this season.

My two biggest lessons have been:

  1. That high brix crops are far more likely to perform well, handle the extreme climate conditions because they have complete sugars complete proteins and fats and essential oils for protection .. lots more about this in our July 2012 catalogue.
  2. We need to pay far more attention to which crops are most likely to do well in our area and choose a range that are likely to perform over all

In my garden I had:

  • A rock melon failure, around 100 melons rotting days before potential ripening due to lack of sun
  • Very few ripe peppers due to lack of sun
  • Not sure if long keeping pumpkins will mature and keep well at all due to lack of sun
  • Eggplants no fruit at all due to lack of sun
  • Mid/late season corn not ripening de to lack of sun, and too much rain
  • I’m too scared to harvest the kumara because they have basically had no sun since planting, will let you know next month what happens there….

I also had:

  • 220 Zimbabwe squash harvested from 5 sq m of garden bed! with vines going up ti- pees so no extra area was used
  • 30 kgs of Crookneck squash (courgettes) harvested from 2 plants
  • 40 Delicata squash from 2sq m of bed
  • Dalmatian Peans; excellent result
  • Potatoes and tomatoes ( that survived a neighbour’s spray drift) excellent result due high brix plants and using EF:Bio pesticide I’m sure. After all this rain we have no blight in potatoes and the tops are still actively growing and the crops getting heavier . ( The EF:Biopesticide only seems to need very few applications in these wet conditions)
  • 5kgs of Proso millet from 2 sq m of bed
  • Sinton dried beans cropped at .6 kgs per sq m. I know that will be way more next time,.. they were transplanted too late from their trays…. but they are all 100% perfect no marks from the wet etc
  • My Mother In Law Beans also cropped at .6 kgs per sq m, but they didn’t like the wet, their pods are thinner and many beans were marked and not edible.
  • If you also had unusual experiences this summer please email us and let s know what worked for you and what didn’t. We will print an article in the July cat to help out others plan for resiliance
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Rain rain rain….

We’ve had more than a month, right over the middle of summer covered by cloud, with misty, continuous and sometimes heavy rain. And no sun, well almost none. These are very challenging times for gardeners endeavouring to seriously grow all their own food. The only vegetables that have behaved normally are those from Europe where they are actually adapted to and/or co-evolved with these conditions!!!

phacelia600

Maybe this is a one off glitch, maybe we have to think far far more seriously about food security and get real about which crops will actually reliably perform! We’re aiming to ensure we are growing high brix crops which apparently are not anywhere near so affected by climate changes, or glitches as much!!

Next week I’ll let you know what we harvested from the garden this month and what it’s retail value was. I do know that I have fed a lot of people this month and I haven’t been to the supermarket once!

cosmos_sunset_squash

Cosmos Sunset and Squash

Things I’m noticing this summer…

  • The Bio Pesticide that I put on before all this rain began weeks ago is still keeping the white cabbage butterflies from laying eggs on the cabbage and the seedlings it was sprayed on. It clearly remains as a living microbe population on the leaves of the plants and keeps working!
  • The mid season corn may not ripen, growing too slowly with little sun,
  • Same with the peppers, we are just eating our first ripe peppers now, they usually begin ripening mid January.
  • Unsure what will happen with the rock melons… they should be ripe by now
  • The bees have hardly been able to get out, I think 3 significant honey harvesting days in February!
  • The cucumbers swell and ripen only when there is sun, so they are going along in fits and starts,
  • The early pumpkins ( Delicata, Zimbabwe squash, Red Kuri.. Table Queen )…are great, but I have serious reservations about whether the long keepers will store at all, they don’t look as though they will ripen and mature…. remains to be seen and may depend on the weather over next 6 weeks!
  • The things that have done well are; tampala, ( an outstanding summer green, which is highly nutritious as well) the courgettes ( Crookneck Squash) over 8 kgs of small squash off each plant; carrots beetroot, chives, barley, millet, Dalmatian cabbage all seem to love this weather.. the best carrots ever.
  • I harvested the first two lots of my dried beans, and also miraculously managed to get a sunny day to finish drying and cleaning them. I was happy with the yields for the first crop in a new garden. For both beans I harvested 600gms per sq m of dried beans ready to store. These were the dwarf varieties Sinton and Mother In Law. The Sinton beans were perfect, no bad beans nothing to throw away, however the Mother In Law were so beautiful to grow, I loved their mauve skins as they dried and I was so excited about growing them because they are outstanding as baked bean beans, but they didn’t like the wet conditions, and around 1/3 of the beans once they were dried and cleaned were so badly damaged by the wet conditions that I would think twice about growing them in an area that has wet summers. They have thin skins.
  • The next plantings of carrots beetroot, daikon, turnips are all up and looking good,
  • The winter brassica seedlings are looking good, protected from white butterfly and other pests with Bio:Pesticide.
  • We have covered a great looking Sumire Mochi hulless barley crop and foxtail millet with bird netting
  • We will be harvesting our Proso millet this week, if we get a break in the rain or a little sun!

proso_millet

 

Proso Millet

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Vegetables Coming out our Ears!

  • Vegetables coming out our ears! 16 weeks after beginning to dig this garden! I’m weighing everything so will give updates at the end of each monthto show how much value is coming off the garden each month.
  • We harvested some of our dried beans this week. It’s many years since I’ve grown Mother In Law beans, Gail Aiken grows them for the Institute, and I really really love them. They are dwarf bush beans that are specific drying beans, they are small white beans that make great baked beans, but they do send up short tendrils as if they want to climb, but then they stop. The pods are very short but prolific and as they dry go through an outstandingly beautiful mauve stage. I also harvested our Sinton beans, which are our soup beans. I haven’t finished drying them yet so don’t have weights per sq m available at this stage.
  • The comfrey patch Bob planted so carefully in late November is looking amazing and most plants are at the harvesting stage so we shifted our chickens on to the house site this week.
  • Our aim is to be supplying all the chicken feed, from our site. Comfrey will supply 50% of the protein they need for 7-8 months of the year. There will also be a special alfalfa patch as well especially to feed chickens fish and rabbits. The comfrey patch and the alfalfa patch are at the bottom of the housesite so that they will pick up the any nutrient run off and we can then feed that back up the site to the compost, chickens, rabbits, and fish.
  • We have set up serious worm farms, ( they are eating the cow manure from the house cow and the rabbit and chicken manure ) to grow worms to feed the chickens., year round … (the recently released book called The Small Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery is the best book I’ve ever seen for addressing everything including how to feed your chickens without industrial grains.)
  • We will make compost in their straw yard so that they can be turning that and feeding from that, and we are also planning the small orchard that will be planted around the chicken yard as a food forest which will be designed to be dropping a wide range of seeds especially for feeding chickens. We are on the edge of shifting to the autumn garden now and over the next 6 weeks our garden which is divided into quarters will be rotating. The quarter of the garden that grew our summer heavy feeders (pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, greens, cucumbers etc) will become the roots and legumes part of the garden, and the ¼ of the garden that had the roots and legumes will become a carbon crop (oats, barley wheat etc) part of the garden, and the ¼ of the garden that grew our heavy feeding carbon crops ( sweet corn and flour corn) will become the light feeding carbon crops ( broad beans and vetch, and tic beans), and the 1/4 that contains the light feeding carbon crops ( millet, barley, etc ) will be composted and fed heavily and will become our winter heavy feeder ( brassicas, all the greens etc) . Now is a good time to plan that transition and get your seedling in. Check out pages 140 -146 of the Koanga garden guide to see how that works.
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Kay’s Home Garden – January 30 2012

30 January 2012 (Week 15)

It is now 4 weeks since we began harvesting food from this new garden… most things have not come on line yet but we added up the weights and approx values and this is what we have harvested so far….

Green Beans – 5.1kg
Courgettes – 7.5 kg
Orach – 1 kg
Lettuce – 27
Beetroot – 2.4kg
Cucumber – 3
Tomato – 1.1 kg
Collards – 9 kg
Delicata Squash – 3
Red Kuri Pumpkin – 1.5 kgs
Zambesi squash 3kgs

We reckon this would be valued at more than $300, based on the price of food in the local organic shop.

I did everything I could to grow high brix food, in terms of getting the beds well aerated, moist and with the right minerals in the right relationships. I added to my beds 400 gms of Nature’s garden, 200 gms Active Calcium 400 gms of Biochar, 400 gms of Para magnetic rock dust per square metre and I then added 100 gms per sq m of Nature’s garden after planting three times together with foliar applications on a weekly basis. All of those things meant soil that had been growing grass with a brix of around 4 was now growing vege with a brix of up to 17 in 14 weeks. Not everything is 17 but everything is getting there. I believe all of that has probably cost me $10 per sq m. in 4 weeks I have paid off 33 meters of my garden. I wonder how long it will take to pay the whole garden off. Perhaps I’ll add up all the hose and tool costs too next time and just look at very very real costs and returns. I imagine the returns will go up dramatically now as the tomatoes and peppers and melons and pumpkins and onions etc come on line.

  • I had the experience this week of seeing that our Biopesticide kills the white cabbage butterfly caterpillars, useful info as we are about to begin planting our brassicas for the winter.
  • Because we established our garden around the contour and the paths are on the swale lines I have been able to water my pumpkins by soaking the swale above them. pumpkins don’t like being watered from above so that is a big advantage.. same thing with potatoes.

Pumpkins_on_the_contour

I’ve grown Mother In Law bean and Dalmatian Peans as my drying beans this season, the Peans are absolutely outstanding in terms of plant vigour and productivity. They are drying beans at the bottom and still growing vigorously at the top and setting loads of beans. They are one of those rare outstanding vegetables that can be green beans, then shellout beans then the best dried beans! The Mother In Law beans pods are turning a stunning purple colour which alone makes them worth growing.

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Netting over the proso millet.

  • On a less excited note I am battling the birds to harvest the proso millet. I think I have the netting pegged down well enough, we’ll set tonight when I go back to the garden!
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My 12 Week Old Garden

12 January 2012

My 12 week old Home garden

We’ve had 2 weeks of rain over xmas and New Year, always a stressful time when we are taking care of tomatoes and potatoes… blight is always in my mind after 30 years of seriously growing large areas of these crops! This summer after having taken so much care of getting the right minerals in the right relationships, and doing my regular foliar sprays ( EF Growth foliar then after 4 sprays switching to EF:FruitSeed foliar) I have no blight after all this rain!!! ( I have also been using our Bio Pesticide spray which also acts as a bio fungicide as well). The potatoes in my garden and the tomatoes look outstanding.

This past week we began harvesting food from our 12 week old garden…800 gms of Market Wonder beans, 12 Crookneck Squash from 2 plants, orach for three omelettes, and 12 lettuces. Bob has now double dug the bed right around the outside of the garden which is going to be our perennial vegetable section… more about that later… The section of my home garden that has the heavy feeders, the tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, courgettes, cucumbers, lettuces, melons and onions .. is looking particularly fantastic. I’m totally going for high brix and maximum production on every square metre and I have erected bamboo and ti tree tri pods over all the cucumber and Delicata squash as well as the Zimbabwe squash and the Zambesi Gem, all well suited to this method of growing. Green Chestnut is a bush and won’t climb, and Chucks Winter and the other long keepers are too vigorous however Red Kuri can also be trained up a trellis.

I’ve been applying EF:FruitSeed Foliar and I’m sure my pumpkins are responding by setting way more fruit. I have Delicata that were planted on October 10th and into the garden November 10th, and now on January 4th they have already set 30 fruit on each plant and they have only just begun climbing the tipee!!!. I’m excited!!

heavy_feeders Port_Albert_Cucumbers

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Kay’s Home Garden – December 2011

Welcome to my new garden in a paddock at Kotare Village. I thought you might enjoy seeing the transformation of ¼ acre of paddock, in a pretty special place, to pretty special garden!! 


This is the very first beginning of my home garden, which is double dug, (200 sq m), and designed following my new Garden Planner to be released in a couple of months. The garden is designed to grow all of the food for 2 people with plenty to give away, whilst growing soil.

December_11 Kay Baxters garden blog

A quarter of the garden is in root crops and legumes, a quarter in heavy feeders; ie pumpkins, cucumbers lettuces, greens, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and a quarter in heavy feeders that are also carbon, corn and flour corn, crops ( so we grow soil as well as food) and another quarter in carbon/ calorie crops (so we grow calories as well as carbon for the soil). The garden is divided into ¼’s so that the rotation plan works easily.