It’s finally wet and winter here.. a little dusting of snow on Whakaponaaki, and we can feel Spring coming. The rabbits chickens and guinea pigs are all dry and warm, and happy…. The winter garden is producing daily salads and greens and root vege and vege for ferments and the berries are just beginning to flower again. Kane pruned and trained all of the urban garden fruit trees this month, a lot of training to fences and structures.
Support Forest Garden Species
We had a session on designing Forest Gardens this month, from the Koanga Design Your own Forest Garden Booklet and made a final list of what we would like to plant in their amongst our urban garden fruiting trees to keep them happy and growing well.
These are the fruit trees we have in our urban garden and this is the list of species we are planting around and under them to provide the nutrient cycling, and the connections, to strengthen the ‘web of life’.
Urban Garden List
Apple (Reinette du Canada – cooking ) – M26 Rootstock free standing tree (cooking) (cooking) Fruit
2 x Apple Reinette Du Canade ( cooking) and Lord Nelson ( also cooking) (see below) – M26 Rootstock
espalliered (espallering & cordons) Fruit
7 apples cordoned (see below M26 rootstocks)
1 x female Arguta, with a grafted male branch Fruit
1 x Boysenberry Berries
3 x Chilean Cranberry / Guava Fruit
3 x Currants Black Berries
1 x Currants Red Berries
2 x Currents White Berries
21x Fig Adriatic Fruit
1 x Goji Berry Berries
2 x Gooseberry Berries
1 x Grape (Currant) Fruit
2 x Hazelnuts -Merv de Bolwillier (Pollinator) & Barcelona Nuts
1 x Lemon (Meyer) Citrus Fruit
Manderine (Clementine) Citrus Fruit
6x Pears -Various varieties (see below) – M26 Rootstock (cordons) Fruit
1 x Olive (Leuccino selected because of it’s cold hardiness) Pit fruit
1 x Worcester berry berry
1 x ladyfinger desert/cider(February)
1x Early Strawberry desert (Dec – Feb)
1x Mayflower cooker/desert/keeper (April) Flat round, green skin with russet, excellent eating, storing drying apple, loads of flavour.
1x Astrakhan late desert/keeper old fashioned , bright stereaky red skin desert apple, good keeper
1x Captain Kidd desert Feb-March
1 x apple Jonathon desert/keeper<March April keeper
1 x apple Northern Spy desrt/cooker/juicer/drying late keeper
Pears (for cordons on dwarf rootstock)
1x Bon Chretian desrt/bottling/drying Early Feb
1x Seckles desert Late Feb
1x Triumph de Vienna desert March
1 x Keifer desert/keeper April
1 x Bert’s Early desert January
Winter Nellis desert/keeper April
A selection from Oregon of a popular variety. A high quality nut large and very presentable. Excellent table nut requiring pollination.
MERV de BOLWILLIER
A large nut which also sheds its pollen quite late. Excellent pollinator.
List of support species
Ground cover and deep rooting herbs: Alfalfa, comfrey- several kinds, , clover, chicory
Vines: runner beans, snail vines, lab lab beans
Perennial herbaceous: cardoon, globe artichoke, rhubarb, Siberian Miner’s lettuce, tree lupins, chokeberries
Small trees: tagasaste, Seabuckthorn,
Getting the Soil Right
It’s clear from the soil test that we had back this week that the mineral levels are still very low in this garden area. Our challenge is to maintain the good ratio between available calcium and magnesium, and get the levels up. We also need to up the phosphorous levels but not the potash levels. Our humus levels are super high because of all the compost we are making, but because there are not enough minerals in the system it is not supporting high levels of microbes and cycling well yet.
We are producing prodigious amounts of compost and vermiliquid, and we have just sent the vermiliquid off to have it tested to discover the best way to use it. I feel that in the past we have just assumed pouring on vermilquid has to be good but I’m not seeing positive results so need to understand this better.
We will put EF:Nature’s Garden on to bring the mineral levels up in the meantime as they make this product with all the right minerals in the right relationships specially. When I understand more about the vermiliquid we produce and the vermicast we’ll figure out how to use them to our best advantage. We will also put EF:Nature’s Garden in the compost from now on with the chickens.
Time For Planning
Kane is studying his Koanga Garden Planner preparing himself for planting the seeds and preparing the 40 sq m vege garden for Spring, and also studying up the Hand Over A Hundy taking gardening to communities model as he is going to do that in Wairoa this Spring.
Right now we’re still focused on planting the support species for the fruit trees, getting the planning done for the garden to ensure we have year round vege from this 40 sq m (Koanga Beginner Gardener Booklet and The Koanga Urban Garden Booklet both have this information in them), an getting the passive solar cloche ready in time to be able to germinate our seeds and grow top quality seedlings early in Spring.
We have potatoes chitting ready t be planted in August . We’re going to do atrial with the potatoes we think might be those that produce tubers up their stems so may produce a lot of potatoes in a vertical situation, as we have in urban gardens. We are literally going to plant a wall of potatoes.. and then we’ll have to wait until harvest to know if the cultivars we chose will do it. We are trialling Karoro, Matariki, Whataroa, Urenika and a couple of others.
Kane made a new biochar burner for the urban garden this week, he wanted something that required less work in order to use the wood left over from the rabbit feed. He has built a beautiful burner with help from Brad., very impressive… check it out Tim!!!… cost nothing, brad used it today to char the corn cobs left after removing the kernels for our seed. They made beautiful bio char.
Urban Garden Sales
Another new project within the urban garden this month… the chickens are producing such a lot of compost that we have more than w ecan deal with even after applying it all over the entire area of garden, trees and all the herbal ley paths etc etc etc. We decided we would like to find a way for our urban family to earn some pocket money by using the compost to grow fruit trees from material in their own garden. Kane pruned the berries and figs and has made those prunings into cuttings and placed in a cutting sand box after first soaking in willow water, and they will be potted up once they have rooted, and sold ‘at the gate’ next winter to neighbours!
We thought we might sell some tomato and vege seedlings from the gate this spring too along with our vermilquid/Biochar fertiliser once we have it sussed!
We are also planning an upgrade to this Urban garden design for nutritional resilience. We are scheming a plan for the small concrete area outside the front door… we have wicking beds and water boxes in mind as well as removable cloche covers for the beds, use of the vertical spaces and also perhaps a plastic roof over the area and the south sides to make it warmer and more productive.
We’ll do a brain storm at our ‘community design night’ next week and show you what the plans are next month.
See the below to find out what we harvested from our urban garden this month. The outputs are very low compared to what is possible, it just takes time to get it all happening…
We are at a point where all of our breeding stock, Sally, Delila, and Peter, are rabbits that have been born an bred here and fed no commercial pellets. We are expecting babies in two weeks, and hopefully that will put s back on track with our rabbits program as described in the urban garden design . We should be able to harvest 1.5 rabbits a week for the kitchen, a critical party of providing the vitamin A and calcium needed by our urban garden family.
Our bees have survived the winter and are looking active and bringing pollen. More about them next month
We now have a guinea pig tractor in the urban garden with the guinea pigs going around the track outside the 40 sq m vege garden. We are on a learning curve around Guinea pigs led by Rachel in the village here so well report more about this trial program next month as well.