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Urban Garden Update December 2013

We’ve been so busy here at Koanga that I haven’t had a chance to post Kay’s updates about the Urban Garden – we are getting huge amounts of food from it and it looks amazing.  Here’s a summary of what’s been going on in the last few months.

November 2013

We began installing our 200 sq m urban garden over the past 6 months. We planted the 40 sq m Bio intensive vege beds in September, having planted the fruit trees over winter and having already installed the chickens and the rabbits.

We have been focusing on getting animal food planted in every available space including all the paths around the garden and site so we can become sufficient in rabbit and chickens greens asap. We have not yet installed the guinea pig tractor system.

We began harvesting veges from the garden in early November but did not begin collecting data until November 21st! We harvested the following in this 10 days from the garden

50 organic high quality eggs                                            $25

22 Odells lettuces worth $1.50 each                             $33

Welsh Bunching onions each day $1.95 a bunch      $19.50

2 kgs of  courgettes 1 a day @ $7 kg                             $14

That makes a total of $91.50 for the first month  $25 eggs and $66.5 veges


We are harvesting comfrey, chicory, alfalfa and clover/grass from the site for daily chicken greens and rabbit greens, but we are wild harvesting tagasaste to feed the rabbits. (Rabbits can’t live on fresh greens alone, but tagasaste is a complete food for them).

We are still buying in fertiliser to get the minerals in the beds balanced and levels high, so we get high brix food, and we are still feeding the chickens organic sprouted corn, and adding chicken minerals and seaweed to their corn ,until the worm farm and the soldier fly farm are in production and/or the compost heap is full of decomposers


 December 2013

130 organic high quality eggs value                  $65

courgettes  18kgs                                                  $126

Welsh bunching onions 30 small bunches      $58

Odell’s Lettuces  64  @$1.50 each                      $96

Daikon Tokinashi 50kgs    $5 kg                       $250

Kaiapoi bush beans    5.7kgs @  $9kg                $51

Magenta Spreen 6 bunches @$3                         $18

Chives 10 bunches @ $1.95                                  $19.5

Lemons 10 kgs @ $5                                               $50

Total $733!!!!!!! Unbelievable … and there is way more to come……. Watch this space!!!!

This month we are still wild harvesting tagasaste, we are learning that rabbits don’t eat it when it is seeding so it works well to harvest trees as you need the feed then they will all grow at slightly different times meaning new growth all the time.

Still feeding sprouted corn and minerals and seaweed to chickens.

Using our vermiliquid  to feed the fruit trees and comfrey, and harvesting chicken and rabbit greens from the site daily.

The guinea pig tractor track around the garden is now ready to be harvested by guinea pigs but until we have them will need to harvest ourselves for the chickens to compost!

We’ll improve our data collecting systems next month, to maximize info for us all, it’s looking better and better and wilder and wilder as we maximize harvesting sunlight in this 200 sq m model urban garden.


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Top Bar Hive, you wonder?


Spring is a busy season here at Koanga!  As the ground warms up, trees begin to blossom and the birds begin to sing, every indication is that it’s time to get out there and keep up with the pace of the season!  If you’re having a bit of trouble finding the motivation to get your act together, perhaps a lesson from the bees will help.  That’s right, bees!

Here at Koanga, we’ve all been inspired by watching the bees flit and fly about, busying themselves with nectar and pollen collection to bring home.  They’re out setting the example for us that it’s time to get out and garden!  Just recently even, we happened upon the fortune of a local beekeeper who was kind enough to sell us a swarm from his apiary that we could install into a newly built top bar hive.

Top bar hive, you wonder?  Well, it’s quite simple really.  Some may be imagining the square bee boxes that stack vertically into the air, often seen from a roadside drive past a local bee yard.  A top bar hive is a different style of hive with it’s own benefits and advantages.  It’s a system that provides easy management for the bees and beekeeper.  Some of these benefits we’ve already reviewed in our most recent introduction to beekeeping (the top bar way) workshop.


 For those already into conventional beekeeping and wondering how to add a top bar hive or even make the transition to only top bar hives, there are many ways to do so.  In fact, the swarm we just installed came from a square style box with frames and we placed them into a “V” shaped top bar hive with ease.  They’re now living happily in the Urban Garden here at Koanga and we’ll be using the hive for honey and wax production as well as pollen collection.  Yep, you can even place a pollen trap on a top bar hive!

The goals for the bees this season here at Koanga are several, among which include:

  1. Building strong colonies to winter over on their own
  2. Not overharvesting honey
  3. Genetic Selection for hygienic and pest resistant bees

If you’re interested in learning more about top bar hives, we’ll be doing some more lessons regarding hive management, colony installation and even some hive building.  Even if you’re not sure about top bar hives, you could still join us for the lessons because most of the information we’ll be learning is applicable to any style of beekeeping.  So take a lesson from the bees.  Get out here, get busy with things and join us!

by Cody Kerr