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Root Crops

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This week the moon has been right for digging up our root crops to choose those we want top plant back in the ground to grow to seed next summer. We dug up the Oxheart carrots, and chose those with the most true to type roots that had done the best. Oxheart carrots are an ancient carrots that came to our collection 20 years ago.

We chose the salsify that had no double roots or major branches off the main tap root, and those that had done the best. We chose the best straightest looking long tapered Avon Resister parsnips that had no forked roots etc. Both the Salsify and the Parsnips are from the Southland Henry Harrington collection.

 

 

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The garden crew selecting the Avon Resister Parsnips. Click this photo to see them in our online store.
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Avon Resister Parsnips. Click this photo to see them in our online store.
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Margaret selecting the best Oxheart Carrots to Keep over winter. Click this photo to see them in our online store.
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Salsify from the Southland Henry Harrington Collection. Click this photo to see them in our online store.
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Progress Since Crowd Funder

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Time has gone so fast since our Urban Garden Crowd Funder, we’ve had a lot going on here!

I’ve been so grateful for the ongoing support of both Michael and Leòn who have helped feed the animals and kept the garden going. Kane our last years apprentice has returned to Christchurch with his new found skills and inspiration. We wish Kane lots of luck and fun…

Michael and Leòn both had many other things to do and it became more and more clear for me that this is a project that requires dedication and commitment. What we get out is totally dependent on what we put in. A small urban garden could potentially be a full time job with lots of food and a small income from what we can see right now.

It becomes more and more obvious that it is a highly skilled job, urban farming really, and we have not inherited the skills and connection so we must learn it again. Animal management is not for the faint hearted, but the fulfillment gained and the connections to life for those who commit to the work make is something that make it all worth while.

We have now brought the caravan we needed so we could have a permanent Urban Garden Apprentice.

We had a Canadian called Greg here for a month or so who helped out heaps in the urban garden and now have Cushla here for the winter until the end of our PDC in September when we will take on an apprentice for the 12 following months. Applications for that position can be made via our website under opportunities. Applicants will need to have done a PDC , and we will take the successful person through all the workshop in our Spring Internship, as required back ground training to base all other Urban Garden learning and management on.

Our current focus has been to get the Soldier Fly farm functioning effectively. We have been producing huge amounts of soldier fly larvae for months now, but they are not getting to the collection bucket. We discovered they were being eaten by rats and mice at night when they were traveling to find a way out. We can also see now that if we combined the passive solar cloche with the soldier fly farm, we could use the warmth of the warm water to potentially keep the solider fly farm warmer for longer so we could extend the larvae season. We will definitely combine them.

The success of an urban garden in the end is no different to any farm or garden.. simple design that works is critical but management is also critical.

We not only need clever design but also training systems for management.

Another focus has to be on the sparrows who eat the chickens food whenever they can as well. At times huge numbers of sparrows come in through the netting which was no cost recycled netting. If I had a choice again, and maybe we still will, I would buy netting the sparrows can’t get through. However Shaked who lives here in Kotare Village has built himself a couple of sparrow traps off the internet with netting, and he catches enough sparrows every day to feed his chickens their protein so maybe the sparrows are not such a bad thing…..

We’re building a platform here to ensure we have a 2015-16 apprentice who has all the skills needed to learn to manage this garden and the development of it in such a way that we can collect the data around inputs, outputs, management and design to the best advantage for every bodies learning.

I walked around the 200 sq m garden with Cushla our new Urban Garden apprentice until September and we collected a salad for her.. this is what we picked

French Sorrell, Welsh Bunching onions, comfrey, Siberian purslane, lettuce, daikon, carrots, Endive, Upland cress, nasturtium leaves, rocket… and red sweet peppers from the wicking beds… not a bad meal!

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Oats for The Compost

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We’re very late this season in getting our compost crops in the ground, partly because of a lack of moisture in the soil, earlier on, and we are still very dry and needing to water to get things going.

We’re about to remove the covers off the Black Oats, which we are growing as our ultimate carbon crop, and the beds look really amazing. We’re going to have huge crops of high quality carbon for the composts next spring, and oats in particular accumulate calcium and phosphate.. just what we need! Every year we understand more and more just how critical our compost is to creating strong resilient healthy soil. Every year we get better at making high quality compost. This Spring our Interns will be making compost with these oats and learning to make amazing compost. Jodi Roebuck  is teaching the 3 day  Biointensive workshop inside our Spring Soil Food and Health Internship this year.. it will be a supercharged 3 days where you can learn the basics of the most efficient way to grow high quality food known right now!!! No matter if you are a beginner or an experienced gardener you will learn heaps from this workshop.

Everybody running a community garden needs this information!

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Feijoa Foraging Fun & Fermented Fresheners

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Autumn is in full swing which means we are right in the middle of another Feijoa season which typically runs from late March until June. Today we made the most of it and went out foraging some and collected a huge box full for everyone to share. Although Feijoas are not actually native to New Zealand, as they originated from South America, they have become some what of a regular in peoples backyards. These green egg shaped fruits don’t look particularly exciting but when you cut them in half and see the pretty clover shaped pattern and jelly like seed pulp that runs through them then take a whiff of their distinctive sweet aroma things definitely start to look up.

After various sessions of stewing, bottling and just happily munching away on them straight from the box we decided to make some Feijoa Kefir Sodas. Here’s the recipe taken from the fermented drinks section of our book change of heart incase you have your own harvest that you’re looking for different ways to utiltise them.

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Feijoa Kefir Soda

1 x 4 litre glass jar

Kefir Grains (Well washed)
The best place to source these is via this facebook group and they can give you lots of fermenting tips and tricks.

Good Quality Water

Sweetener (honey, rapadura or stevia)

3 slices of fresh ginger

Glass jars with screw on lids

Feijoas scooped out

  • Put all ingredients into the 4 litre jar, putting the lid on (but not tight). Leave in a warm place until you see bubbles around the top (in the summer I leave the jar on the kitchen bench, in the winter I put it into the hot water cupboard or beside the wood stove). Ideally it takes about 2-3 days to produce bubbles.
  • Once you have small bubbles, simply strain the liquid through a sieve into a fliptop bottle (eg 2 litre Grolsch bottles), and leave for 2 days before drinking (This will finish the process of turning the sugar into fizz and make it a delicious and super healthy drink, because of the range of bacteria and fungi the kefir grains impart into the drink – super good for our entire digestive system!)
  • Retrieve your kefir grains from the sieve and rinse them under the tap, to begin your next jar of soda. Just as it is with all of these ‘living’ foods, the air temperature and season will affect the way they work, so you have to ‘tune in’. Placing your bottled sodas in the fridge will slow down the process of fermentation, if that is what you need.

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