Posted on Leave a comment

Today in the Garden

kane7

  • Pulled the corn out. It’s the carbon crop of this garden system. Made space for the heavy feeders crop: Silver beet, leeks, celery, kale, coriander, landcress, cabbages, lettuce and broccoli.
  •  The corn will be chopped up (ideally and returned to to the compost heap as food for the nitrogen/weeds and greens) that becomes food for the soil.
  •  This method grows food for the gardener and food for the soil, so each are mutually benefited.
  •  I sowed into a tray: Daikon and beetroot.
  •  Climbing beans to come out now, but will do next week as didn’t have enough time to take out and prepare the soil.
  • The corn bed was U-bared (broad forked) and 400gs Natures garden per metre as fertiliser.

– Kane

kane2

kane3

kane5

kane6

Posted on Leave a comment

February Garden Update

IMG_2187

I’ve just spent 2 weeks doing nothing but harvesting in the garden (no time for anything else during a PDC). It rained almost all of that time on and off after a very dry period so you can now imagine that my garden looks like a forest pretty much. The corn is over 2m tall with sunflowers above that, it looks as though there are about 4 layers of the forest garden below that canopy, and all the wild weeds that are pretty much permanently in the garden like purslane, both golden and wild, heartsease, lambs quarters, magenta spreen, calendula, amaranth greens (wild version) are everywhere there was a space for them.

It’s time to harvest sweet corn, Austrian hulless pumpkins as they go yellow, for processing, peppers for processing, tomatoes for processing, basil for processing, stevia for drying, time to sort the asparagus bed ( if you leave the female plants to go to seed you may have an asparagus problem next season… I’m going to mark all the female plants and dig some out in the winter and replace with crowns from the best male plants which always produce more asparagus spears. Pumpkins coming out our ears, we’re eating Zimbabwe squash and Delicata first then we’ll follow with Red Kuri and Buttercup, then the long Keepers Butternut, Hopi Grey, Grey Hubbard Squash and also Crown.

Time to cut back the globe artichokes if you haven’t already done that, the sooner you cut them back the sooner you get the next crop of artichokes…time to dig potatoes and store.. it feels like time to do everything!!!!!.. and most critically it’s time to plant the winter garden.

I’ve been burrowing in my spring compost heaps to see if they are ready to use… they are still full of life, worms, microbes doing all the breaking down of the original material so not quite ready, they may have been if I had keep them a little moister earlier on when it was very dry. I may have to plant some winter beds before the compost is ready then add it later.

I thought I was doing really well getting my Brussells sprouts and kale and collards in last month but the birds found the plants and have really set them back. I’m really sick of having work so hard to get things in on time only to have that happen so it looks as though we just need to be prepared for it right from the beginning and cover the beds with hoops and have bird netting over them. Building sparrow populations are a real threat to food security and finding ways to deal with that is a high priority if we are serious about feeding ourselves and not eating supermarket food from China.

One of the great successes in my garden this year has been a trial I was doing to find a way to mulch the berry beds without having to collect or bring in mulch. I tried a few things, evergreen comfrey planted in a row around the outside of the gooseberry and currant beds, I tried asparagus peas and I tried Alpine strawberries as a mulch on the Marion berry bed. The evergreen comfrey formed an outstanding ground cover all season, the asparagus peas were useless as a way to suppress weeds, and the straw berries were also pretty good. I will use evergreen comfrey more for that sort of thing I think… maybe even my raspberry bed .. they are not suckering raspberries.. it wouldn’t work with suckering raspberries. Evergreen comfrey is available in our perennial back order system this year for the first time

My Essene flaxseed is harvested waiting to be threshed and winnowed, and so we almost have next years pumpkin seeds and flaxseed ready to begin the cycle again of being turned into our biscuits that we eat instead of bread most of the time.

It’s now almost 7 months since we stopped buying food and it feels better and better, we don’t even notice it any more, and we prefer our own food anyway.

This is my latest recipe.. it is really really delicious, a wonderful way to store those summer treats.

20.02.08 009

Eggplant pepper tomato oil pickle

2kgs eggplants, any kind
1kg onions, any kind
1 kg peppers (any kind, if they are hot the sauce will be hot)
2 kgs fresh tomatoes
2 bulbs of fresh garlic
unrefined seasalt to taste
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tbsp black mustard seeds
1 Tbsp turmeric powder
1/2 litre olive oil

Char eggplants, peppers, onions on the BBQ (ours is a rocket stove BBQ)until soft. Remove and when cool peel off charred skins . Chop into chunks, then ¼ tomatoes, removing hard cores. Finely chop garlic.

Add oil to wok, the garlic and soften, then add cumin, and mustard seeds, cook 2 minutes then then add all ingredients except tumeric, and gently simmer until all the runny liquid is gone and it is a thick consistency.. add turmeric stir whiel gently cooking 5 more minutes. .

Pour into small hot jars with hot lids ready and seal.

Forest Garden

The forest garden is pumping, now that it has rained we are going to have to cut the tagasaste back a lot. Many of the other legumes are showing themselves now too, Some of the Siberian pea trees are over1.5 m and the tree medick is growing fast along with the eleagnus species, the lespedeza bi colour and the tree lupins… the cornus are growing very slowly right now but are still hanging in there after the dry period. We have 4 distinct layers now ground cover, low shrubs/perennials, chop and drop small trees, and fruit trees. Check our Design Your own Forest Garden Booklet available in both booklet form or e-booklet for more details on how to design these regenerative systems.

The fruit trees are beginning to take their places in the forest garden and many have small amounts of fruit, prune plums, apples, peaches and nectarines this season.

Poultry

We have raised our best poultry ever this season on curds and comfrey and alfalfa, we’ll do that every year now, they are big birds well built and maturing early which means they have been well fed. It’s almost time to choose our replacements, choose the oldest birds that have to go and put all the extras in the freezer. Our chickens are still laying 6-8 eggs ( 8 birds) every day since July, but the Indian Runner dicks are almost finished moulting now. They also have done super well on curds and comfrey and free range behind the cows during the day. I’m hoping they will be laying when the chickens stop and have a break.

Posted on Leave a comment

Golden Beetroot Panir Salad

panir_salad

Golden Beetroot Panir Salad

Toss, cover generously with home made vinaigrette dressing then add grilled cubes of panir cheese.

Posted on Leave a comment

Urban Garden December 2014 Report

Pumpkins climbing the structure we built to keep them in a small space

 

If you’re new to this project please go to our website and read the back ground story. This is about researching ways we can grow meet our nutritional needs ( based on the Weston Price nutritional model) in our own back yards in an urban environment.

2014_stats_facebook

December has seen temperatures soar here and growth along with it

Every thing is humming, the rabbits, the bees, the corn and all the vegetables, The fruit trees are climbing fences and the growth is generally going nuts and being recycled in the system to the compost, guinea pigs, rabbits and chickens.

Soldier Fly Farm

The Solider fly farm is now producing a lot of larvae, but we’ve had some management issues that are not totally resolved. All these great sounding things need management and commitment.

We have realized over the past month that if we leave the buckets of liquid fertiliser that we get from under the soldier fly farm out in the open they grow hover fly larvae which also make great chicken food. So we now think we can feed them soldier fly larvae, and hoverfly larvae over the warm months and keep the worms under the rabbits for the colder months

Chicken Numbers

We’ve have been playing around with chicken numbers in the chicken straw yard , it is an area of 2.2m x 2.5 m and I’ve come to the conclusion that a space that size can hold 1 rooster and 6 chickens comfortably for the chickens, after that some of them get too marginalised …..more than feels good…. So we’ll hold our numbers there. We’re putting all the Biochar we’re making with the tagasate sticks back into the system via the compost. We use outside sources of annual carbon to keep this compost area producing high quality chicken food and compost. Currently we’re using some of the material recouped after Koanga seed cleaning.

Guinea pig tractor run 1 week after being eaten down
Guinea pig tractor run 1 week after being eaten down

 

Guinea Pigs

We’re also on a learning curve with the guinea pigs. We believe that for many people in the urban world guinea pig is going to be the meat of choice, because they could be the most practical animal to keep. We’re working to discover how many guinea pigs we can feed well in our garden, and also how to maximize growth on the tractor system and surrounds. The principles of growth are just the same on a guinea pig path tractor system as they are on the farm for cows. If you eat it too low, it takes a long time to recover, and you get way less production and other good things happening, if you let t get too long it is not as nutritious, we need to practice Holistic Management for the guinea pigs I can see. I’d love to heart from any of you who may be feeding comfrey to guinea pigs.. how much of their food can be comfrey do you think? Ours are mostly getting grass clover, comfrey, chicory, alfalfa, raspberry leaves and vege tops right now.

Summer greens being sown in shadey places
Summer greens being sown in shadey places

 

Fruit Trees and Perennial vege

In the fruit tree vine department we are focusing on growing size into everything right now so we have structures to hold fruit in the coming years, and our perennial vege are beginning to get some size to them as well, with both rhubarb and globe artichokes showing their heads

Bees

Our Top Bar hive was requeened last month as the hive was not strong and it has picked up well now, we are adding top bars and will hopefully see a stronger hive going into winter this next season

Wicking Beds

We began playing around with wicking beds on our concrete area, and very quickly came to see the potential they hold. We filled them with compost from the chicken system, and they grew so much faster than in the garden, all about getting as much water as they can use… this will be an exciting area to develop in the future.

In the mean time our Total Value out was $808, not bad for something we can see could be far more productive!!!!!!

December_20142

urban_crowdfund_smaller

Urban Garden Crowd Funder

The major thing that frustrates me is that we don’t have the resources to train an urban garden intern to do this job well over time and get seasonal changeovers right so we get close to maximum production etc etc. I also believe all animals need a permanent carer, somebody who gets really tuned in to them, and is there for a year at a time..(actually as plants do too). If we had somebody committed to this garden rather than volunteers that keep changing the production could be far higher. That’s what our crowd funder is for. This project needs to be done well, and we see so much potential here for inspiring a lot of people.

White scotch runner beans shading rabbits in summer
White scotch runner beans shading rabbits in summer
Posted on Leave a comment

Kay’s Garden Blog December 2014

IMG_1444
Harvesting onions.

As usual December was a crazy month however I’m happy to say the last week of December has been in the garden for me, I feel revived and so does the garden. No sooner were the cloches emptied of seedlings than we began harvesting the early garlic (late November) and now all of the shallots and garlic and lupin seed is in them so they are full up again. I’ll need to clean, grade and store the garlic and shallots ASAP because we are about to harvest the Essene flax seed which together with the Austrian Hulless pumpkin seed will be our biscuits and crackers over the next year.

IMG_1476
Part of the heavy feeding section pumpkins tomatoes and greens

All the work that went into growing strong seedlings early, has paid of this year, we have tomatoes to eat now, and peppers any day, and the pumpkins (Austrian hullesss) are already huge which means they will be harvested in January; we’ll probably get a second crop off those same vines. The seed originally came from, Joe Polaischer who brought it from Austria where they had a short growing season…. so in a long season here we get two crops of pumpkins.

IMG_0167
Carbon crop section of kay’s garden corn Bloody Butcher, magenta spreen and sunflowers, also all edible.

We have 3 main weeds in the garden right now and all of them are not only edible but highly nutritious, and delicious. Lamb’s Quarters – Magenta Spreen, Purslane, and red root, (a wild amaranth). Basically I’ve got to the point where we plan on those coming up and being our greens over summer. I’m continuing to refine the 200 sq m Biointensive garden we have, along with 50 sq m of perennial vege.

I know how much flour corn we need now, and I know how much we grow in a 10 sq m bed. 1 kg of dry corn per sq m actually. We eat this dry corn as tortillas, posole in soup, as flour for cakes and baking and in polenta. We always nixtamalize it to gain maximum nutrition as indigenous folks in Central America always did.

The rotation system of my garden: Heavy feeders followed by roots and legumes, followed by carbon followed by carbon. ½ our carbon area is flour corn and sunflowers, and the other ½ is 20m of Essene flax seed, 10m of hullesss barley, and 20 m of sweet corn.

Unbelievably it’s been really easy not buying any food since we decided to eat only what we grow here plus small amounts of bartered food from friends neighbours etc. With two exceptions right now, 1 is salt, the other olive oil. I had a years supply as I always do when we began but we’ll be harvesting olives this year in exchange for olives to press, I hope. It feels crazy going to the supermarket to buy matches (we cook on gas in the house truck), dish washing liquid and laundry liquid.

IMG_1470
The second carbon section in kay’s garden essene flax seed barley and sweet corn.

I went to a lot of trouble this spring to make sure I left my carbon crops in the ground as long as I could so they would be as high in carbon as possible to avoid a hot fast compost heap, and increase my chances of having a high carbon low nitrogen heap. All 3 of the compost heaps I made this spring kept below 55°C, which made me very happy. They are all very high in high quality carbon from a variety of crops. All 3 heaps are well made and have added minerals so I’m excited to be seeing how well that compost grows our winter crops this year. Compost making is a real art, and super exciting to be finally able to make compost that can actually grow my food after all these years!!! No need to add liquid comfrey or manure etc etc etc.

Mulching tomatoes with comfrey works very well, you can cut the comfrey borders and add to the mulch every month over summer.
Mulching tomatoes with comfrey works very well, you can cut the comfrey borders and add to the mulch every month over summer.

Shaked, a Kotare Village neighbor has been refining the Biochar maker, and we have a version now that is great for turning all those odd things that gardeners collect into char. It can be stoked with bones, corncobs, paper, especially rolled newspapers, odd sticks, shells etc. Its an easy size to use and was easy to make. Being able to add all of that to the compost feels pretty good.

We are eating like Kings and Queens!

Posted on Leave a comment

Urban Garden November Update

IMG_1413_web

This month everything went crazy in the urban garden, but like all our other food gardens this is the month for greens. It has been really easy to harvest 2 salads per day plus greens for cooking plus a good egg meal every day. The fruit trees and legumes and vines have gone crazy with growth, we can see a few berries ripening and many bunches of grapes and a few apples and olives this first year .

Lemon Tree Guild

The forest garden layers we planted under the lemon tree look truly amazing. That lemon is very very happy and the energy is buzzing under there now.

IMG_1395_web

Harvesting the animal forage

All around the rest of the 200 sq m that is not in Biointensive vege garden the herbal ley and forest garden species are getting established, and it is a bit of a journey learning how to maximize production with out harvesting too much or too little. I have come to realize that managing comfrey production on 200 sq m or alfalfa production or chicory or grass and clover is no different to managing it on a farm. If you keep it short all the time you get very slow regrowth and are not growing soil or sequestering carbon and production and brix is low. If you let it get tall, but harvest it before it goes to seed it grows back strongly and fast and the soil benefits as does the nutrient density of the plants so also do the rabbits guinea pigs and rabbits and chickens. If you let it go to seeds it also takes ages to regrow less production and less carbon sequestration in the soil.

That is a bit of a thing to learn and practice but it is a powerful thing to learn .

Soldier fly Farm

The soldier fly larvae are now climbing their ramp and dropping into a bucket to be eaten by the chickens, we have had to change the system a little so that the bath drained well and did not get full of liquid. The liquid drains out into a bucket underneath the bath and we found that hover flies are laying eggs there and we are able to feed hoverfly larvae to the chickens too. We could maximize that by having several buckets of soldier fly juice around the garden. We’re refining those systems all the time. The worm farm under the rabbits has also required some attention so it did not get anaerobic.

Worm Juice/Rabbit Pee

We are at a stand still around what to do with our 100’s of litres of rabbit pee/worm juice that comes from under the rabbits. WWE had it tested to see what was in it and discovered as I had wondered that it is nitrate nitrogen and potassium mostly 2 things we don’t need more of and putting it on the garden anywhere is going to make our mineral balances even further out and create havoc to our journey of learning to grow nutrient dense food and growing soil. We need to be able to add calcium and phosphate to it to balance those minerals out…. Any ideas out there, how do we use a liquid that is high in nitrate nitrogen and potash ad very low in calcium and phosphate.

Crowd Funder

We are in the process of putting up a crowd funder to support the development and management and record keeping in this garden. It’s a labour of love right now and we se this kind of research as being so exciting and so important in todays world that we want to see this 200 sq m garden go to the urban world. We’ll let you know when it goes up in early January via our Koanga newsletter so keep in touch. We’re looking for a major sponsor for this garden which will get a lot of publicity in the next year so if you know anybody who might be interested please let us know.

IMG_1397_web

November_2014

IMG_1398_web