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November 11 2013 Kay’s Garden Blog

As of this morning my summer garden is basically in,  all except for the peppers and eggplants which will have to wait another week until we get back from Taste of Auckland. Incredibly different spring to last season when we  had a frost on December 1st!

This garden is now beginning the third year of it’s life!  The soil has improved out of sight….. I’m still fine tuning the crops I choose to grow to nourish us, as I’m sure I always will, the rotation system I worked out as in the new Koanga Garden Planner is working really well, very excited about that still.

I’m now growing enough compost material to be able to apply compost on all beds every time they are planted, and I have enough compost and vermicast to make my own seed raising mix now. On top of that I have enough liquid fertiliser made for the entire summer for the garden and feel confident about making more  if needed…  I’ve made both BioSol and BioFert. I’m still applying Nature’s garden to my compost heaps and my garden when planting with side applications on heavy feeders as needed. It takes time to rebuild high quality soil… it seems there is no instant solution.

Our new berry patch looks like a wall or several walls of berries at this moment, albeit unripe as yet, and the argutas planted around the fence between the vege garden and forest garden are beginning to climb along the fence, look impressive  and are also flowering for the first time.

The forest garden is now 1 year on from beginning the plantings of support trees, and certainly looking interesting.  The tagasaste has grown the fastest of course but we discovered that you can feed rabbits on it and throw the commercial pellets away and they will do better than they did on pellets, so it’s being cut for the rabbits whilst we get more planted for them.

The blueberry patch is humming, and the comfrey patch has diversified itself into a comfrey, alfalfa, mallow, red clover and plantain patch which I’m very happy about.

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Within the forest garden there is a patch where we shut the Indian Runner ducks in each evening after the day foraging on the farm behind the cows, and they are laying very well . Duck eggs have far more nutritional value than chicken eggs so we’re working with ducks as well as chickens and my negative memories of strong tasting duck eggs in earlier years is almost erased. Perhaps the breed of duck is important, we have runners which seem to produce beautiful eggs large, nutritious but not strong! Before the days of refrigeration our commercial eggs came from Indian Runners rather than chickens.

Along with all of that I’ve been developing a perennial vege garden. The perennial vegetable books are full of hundreds of plants that can be grown in perennial systems, but I am being very very fussy. There is a difference between what it’s possible to grow in a perennial vege system, and what it’s possible to grow well enough without lots of extra work and inputs, that’s productive and high enough brix – that I want to eat! I’m not interested in lots of low quality unappetising vegetables  that require a lot of room and give back little, unless I also put a lot energy in in terms of watering and feeding.

If I have to do that I’m better off putting them in the Biointensive vege garden.

Of course this list will differ for all of us because of differing soils and climate. We have hard frosts, cold winters, dry summers and very light soils.

So far the list of crops I choose to plant in my perennial patch is quite short, asparagus, globe artichoke, rhubarb, seakale, King Solomon’s Seal, and a few day lilies for their incredible edible flowers and colour!

My favourite books this year have been:  

The old books that we keep going back to have been Weston A Price’s book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, a must for every body,  A E Beddoe’s book Nourishment Home Grown, Harvey Ussery’s Home Scale Poultry, a must have if you are a chicken person!  We are aiming to have these in stock early next year so that you can buy them through the Koanga website.

I still think that the best perennial vege book is Dave Jacke’s Edible Forest Gardens, and the best Forest Garden book for most of us is Martin Crawford’s Creating A Forest Garden.

Our new publications this year have been significant and exciting,

The Koanga Garden Planner, for old and new gardeners alike, is a step by step system that can be used to get your planning sussed in any garden large or small, not just for the summer but also for the year and onwards from there. It’s easy to plan a summer garden, but to plan it so that it then rotates and transforms into a winter garden with crops coming out and going in in a way that actually works, together with growing enough carbon crops to have enough high quality compost that you will actually be growing soil whilst growing your food is quite a mind bender. This planner will make this possible for you.

The new Koanga Beginner Gardener Booklet was one of my biggest challenges to write…….it is written to be a simple to follow process that not only gets a beginner’s garden in but in in such a way that you will be growing healthy soil and food. It shows how you can grow $2500 worth of food over a year in 40 sq m, for a cost of $176 for the seed. If you buy the NEW 40sqm Salads Stir Fries Soups and Stews Seed Collection between now and Christmas we will throw in a free copy of this booklet which gives you all the information you need to do a good job of it.

If you are beginning to realize that food security for your family will never come from the supermarket and you are unsure how to begin at home this is the deal for you. We all need to learn to be able to grow high quality food and regenerate our soil…. This is called food security or creating resilient future… This system and seed collection will have you well down that track.

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Hot off the press is our Koanga 200 sqm Urban Garden Design Booklet. This garden, which we have installed here at Koanga is attracting so much attention because it looks so amazing (thanks in part to our intern Shelley who is doing an outstanding job of implementing the design and managing the area). Small spaces are exciting to work with and we can already see that a large part of the nutritional needs of a family of 4 can be met from only 200 sqm. This booklet will show you how and give you other ideas to make it even better.

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