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The Harvest Continues

19 March 2012

No pics this week, my camera is broken and it’s raining anyway!

My February value of vegetables harvested was $401 ! This was very low because of such big crop failures associated with the rain and no sun etc…see below… however it is still a huge saving on the grocery bill, and we have almost paid off the cost of putting the garden in after 16 weeks since digging the beds. This summer has been a huge wake up call…… this would have bee n a starvation year 200 years ago. We need to learn from the failures and successes of this season.

My two biggest lessons have been:

  1. That high brix crops are far more likely to perform well, handle the extreme climate conditions because they have complete sugars complete proteins and fats and essential oils for protection .. lots more about this in our July 2012 catalogue.
  2. We need to pay far more attention to which crops are most likely to do well in our area and choose a range that are likely to perform over all

In my garden I had:

  • A rock melon failure, around 100 melons rotting days before potential ripening due to lack of sun
  • Very few ripe peppers due to lack of sun
  • Not sure if long keeping pumpkins will mature and keep well at all due to lack of sun
  • Eggplants no fruit at all due to lack of sun
  • Mid/late season corn not ripening de to lack of sun, and too much rain
  • I’m too scared to harvest the kumara because they have basically had no sun since planting, will let you know next month what happens there….

I also had:

  • 220 Zimbabwe squash harvested from 5 sq m of garden bed! with vines going up ti- pees so no extra area was used
  • 30 kgs of Crookneck squash (courgettes) harvested from 2 plants
  • 40 Delicata squash from 2sq m of bed
  • Dalmatian Peans; excellent result
  • Potatoes and tomatoes ( that survived a neighbour’s spray drift) excellent result due high brix plants and using EF:Bio pesticide I’m sure. After all this rain we have no blight in potatoes and the tops are still actively growing and the crops getting heavier . ( The EF:Biopesticide only seems to need very few applications in these wet conditions)
  • 5kgs of Proso millet from 2 sq m of bed
  • Sinton dried beans cropped at .6 kgs per sq m. I know that will be way more next time,.. they were transplanted too late from their trays…. but they are all 100% perfect no marks from the wet etc
  • My Mother In Law Beans also cropped at .6 kgs per sq m, but they didn’t like the wet, their pods are thinner and many beans were marked and not edible.
  • If you also had unusual experiences this summer please email us and let s know what worked for you and what didn’t. We will print an article in the July cat to help out others plan for resiliance
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Rain rain rain….

We’ve had more than a month, right over the middle of summer covered by cloud, with misty, continuous and sometimes heavy rain. And no sun, well almost none. These are very challenging times for gardeners endeavouring to seriously grow all their own food. The only vegetables that have behaved normally are those from Europe where they are actually adapted to and/or co-evolved with these conditions!!!

phacelia600

Maybe this is a one off glitch, maybe we have to think far far more seriously about food security and get real about which crops will actually reliably perform! We’re aiming to ensure we are growing high brix crops which apparently are not anywhere near so affected by climate changes, or glitches as much!!

Next week I’ll let you know what we harvested from the garden this month and what it’s retail value was. I do know that I have fed a lot of people this month and I haven’t been to the supermarket once!

cosmos_sunset_squash

Cosmos Sunset and Squash

Things I’m noticing this summer…

  • The Bio Pesticide that I put on before all this rain began weeks ago is still keeping the white cabbage butterflies from laying eggs on the cabbage and the seedlings it was sprayed on. It clearly remains as a living microbe population on the leaves of the plants and keeps working!
  • The mid season corn may not ripen, growing too slowly with little sun,
  • Same with the peppers, we are just eating our first ripe peppers now, they usually begin ripening mid January.
  • Unsure what will happen with the rock melons… they should be ripe by now
  • The bees have hardly been able to get out, I think 3 significant honey harvesting days in February!
  • The cucumbers swell and ripen only when there is sun, so they are going along in fits and starts,
  • The early pumpkins ( Delicata, Zimbabwe squash, Red Kuri.. Table Queen )…are great, but I have serious reservations about whether the long keepers will store at all, they don’t look as though they will ripen and mature…. remains to be seen and may depend on the weather over next 6 weeks!
  • The things that have done well are; tampala, ( an outstanding summer green, which is highly nutritious as well) the courgettes ( Crookneck Squash) over 8 kgs of small squash off each plant; carrots beetroot, chives, barley, millet, Dalmatian cabbage all seem to love this weather.. the best carrots ever.
  • I harvested the first two lots of my dried beans, and also miraculously managed to get a sunny day to finish drying and cleaning them. I was happy with the yields for the first crop in a new garden. For both beans I harvested 600gms per sq m of dried beans ready to store. These were the dwarf varieties Sinton and Mother In Law. The Sinton beans were perfect, no bad beans nothing to throw away, however the Mother In Law were so beautiful to grow, I loved their mauve skins as they dried and I was so excited about growing them because they are outstanding as baked bean beans, but they didn’t like the wet conditions, and around 1/3 of the beans once they were dried and cleaned were so badly damaged by the wet conditions that I would think twice about growing them in an area that has wet summers. They have thin skins.
  • The next plantings of carrots beetroot, daikon, turnips are all up and looking good,
  • The winter brassica seedlings are looking good, protected from white butterfly and other pests with Bio:Pesticide.
  • We have covered a great looking Sumire Mochi hulless barley crop and foxtail millet with bird netting
  • We will be harvesting our Proso millet this week, if we get a break in the rain or a little sun!

proso_millet

 

Proso Millet

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Vegetables Coming out our Ears!

  • Vegetables coming out our ears! 16 weeks after beginning to dig this garden! I’m weighing everything so will give updates at the end of each monthto show how much value is coming off the garden each month.
  • We harvested some of our dried beans this week. It’s many years since I’ve grown Mother In Law beans, Gail Aiken grows them for the Institute, and I really really love them. They are dwarf bush beans that are specific drying beans, they are small white beans that make great baked beans, but they do send up short tendrils as if they want to climb, but then they stop. The pods are very short but prolific and as they dry go through an outstandingly beautiful mauve stage. I also harvested our Sinton beans, which are our soup beans. I haven’t finished drying them yet so don’t have weights per sq m available at this stage.
  • The comfrey patch Bob planted so carefully in late November is looking amazing and most plants are at the harvesting stage so we shifted our chickens on to the house site this week.
  • Our aim is to be supplying all the chicken feed, from our site. Comfrey will supply 50% of the protein they need for 7-8 months of the year. There will also be a special alfalfa patch as well especially to feed chickens fish and rabbits. The comfrey patch and the alfalfa patch are at the bottom of the housesite so that they will pick up the any nutrient run off and we can then feed that back up the site to the compost, chickens, rabbits, and fish.
  • We have set up serious worm farms, ( they are eating the cow manure from the house cow and the rabbit and chicken manure ) to grow worms to feed the chickens., year round … (the recently released book called The Small Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery is the best book I’ve ever seen for addressing everything including how to feed your chickens without industrial grains.)
  • We will make compost in their straw yard so that they can be turning that and feeding from that, and we are also planning the small orchard that will be planted around the chicken yard as a food forest which will be designed to be dropping a wide range of seeds especially for feeding chickens. We are on the edge of shifting to the autumn garden now and over the next 6 weeks our garden which is divided into quarters will be rotating. The quarter of the garden that grew our summer heavy feeders (pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, greens, cucumbers etc) will become the roots and legumes part of the garden, and the ¼ of the garden that had the roots and legumes will become a carbon crop (oats, barley wheat etc) part of the garden, and the ¼ of the garden that grew our heavy feeding carbon crops ( sweet corn and flour corn) will become the light feeding carbon crops ( broad beans and vetch, and tic beans), and the 1/4 that contains the light feeding carbon crops ( millet, barley, etc ) will be composted and fed heavily and will become our winter heavy feeder ( brassicas, all the greens etc) . Now is a good time to plan that transition and get your seedling in. Check out pages 140 -146 of the Koanga garden guide to see how that works.
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Kay’s Home Garden – January 30 2012

30 January 2012 (Week 15)

It is now 4 weeks since we began harvesting food from this new garden… most things have not come on line yet but we added up the weights and approx values and this is what we have harvested so far….

Green Beans – 5.1kg
Courgettes – 7.5 kg
Orach – 1 kg
Lettuce – 27
Beetroot – 2.4kg
Cucumber – 3
Tomato – 1.1 kg
Collards – 9 kg
Delicata Squash – 3
Red Kuri Pumpkin – 1.5 kgs
Zambesi squash 3kgs

We reckon this would be valued at more than $300, based on the price of food in the local organic shop.

I did everything I could to grow high brix food, in terms of getting the beds well aerated, moist and with the right minerals in the right relationships. I added to my beds 400 gms of Nature’s garden, 200 gms Active Calcium 400 gms of Biochar, 400 gms of Para magnetic rock dust per square metre and I then added 100 gms per sq m of Nature’s garden after planting three times together with foliar applications on a weekly basis. All of those things meant soil that had been growing grass with a brix of around 4 was now growing vege with a brix of up to 17 in 14 weeks. Not everything is 17 but everything is getting there. I believe all of that has probably cost me $10 per sq m. in 4 weeks I have paid off 33 meters of my garden. I wonder how long it will take to pay the whole garden off. Perhaps I’ll add up all the hose and tool costs too next time and just look at very very real costs and returns. I imagine the returns will go up dramatically now as the tomatoes and peppers and melons and pumpkins and onions etc come on line.

  • I had the experience this week of seeing that our Biopesticide kills the white cabbage butterfly caterpillars, useful info as we are about to begin planting our brassicas for the winter.
  • Because we established our garden around the contour and the paths are on the swale lines I have been able to water my pumpkins by soaking the swale above them. pumpkins don’t like being watered from above so that is a big advantage.. same thing with potatoes.

Pumpkins_on_the_contour

I’ve grown Mother In Law bean and Dalmatian Peans as my drying beans this season, the Peans are absolutely outstanding in terms of plant vigour and productivity. They are drying beans at the bottom and still growing vigorously at the top and setting loads of beans. They are one of those rare outstanding vegetables that can be green beans, then shellout beans then the best dried beans! The Mother In Law beans pods are turning a stunning purple colour which alone makes them worth growing.

proso_millet_net1

Netting over the proso millet.

  • On a less excited note I am battling the birds to harvest the proso millet. I think I have the netting pegged down well enough, we’ll set tonight when I go back to the garden!
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My 12 Week Old Garden

12 January 2012

My 12 week old Home garden

We’ve had 2 weeks of rain over xmas and New Year, always a stressful time when we are taking care of tomatoes and potatoes… blight is always in my mind after 30 years of seriously growing large areas of these crops! This summer after having taken so much care of getting the right minerals in the right relationships, and doing my regular foliar sprays ( EF Growth foliar then after 4 sprays switching to EF:FruitSeed foliar) I have no blight after all this rain!!! ( I have also been using our Bio Pesticide spray which also acts as a bio fungicide as well). The potatoes in my garden and the tomatoes look outstanding.

This past week we began harvesting food from our 12 week old garden…800 gms of Market Wonder beans, 12 Crookneck Squash from 2 plants, orach for three omelettes, and 12 lettuces. Bob has now double dug the bed right around the outside of the garden which is going to be our perennial vegetable section… more about that later… The section of my home garden that has the heavy feeders, the tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, courgettes, cucumbers, lettuces, melons and onions .. is looking particularly fantastic. I’m totally going for high brix and maximum production on every square metre and I have erected bamboo and ti tree tri pods over all the cucumber and Delicata squash as well as the Zimbabwe squash and the Zambesi Gem, all well suited to this method of growing. Green Chestnut is a bush and won’t climb, and Chucks Winter and the other long keepers are too vigorous however Red Kuri can also be trained up a trellis.

I’ve been applying EF:FruitSeed Foliar and I’m sure my pumpkins are responding by setting way more fruit. I have Delicata that were planted on October 10th and into the garden November 10th, and now on January 4th they have already set 30 fruit on each plant and they have only just begun climbing the tipee!!!. I’m excited!!

heavy_feeders Port_Albert_Cucumbers

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Kay’s Home Garden – December 2011

Welcome to my new garden in a paddock at Kotare Village. I thought you might enjoy seeing the transformation of ¼ acre of paddock, in a pretty special place, to pretty special garden!! 


This is the very first beginning of my home garden, which is double dug, (200 sq m), and designed following my new Garden Planner to be released in a couple of months. The garden is designed to grow all of the food for 2 people with plenty to give away, whilst growing soil.

December_11 Kay Baxters garden blog

A quarter of the garden is in root crops and legumes, a quarter in heavy feeders; ie pumpkins, cucumbers lettuces, greens, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and a quarter in heavy feeders that are also carbon, corn and flour corn, crops ( so we grow soil as well as food) and another quarter in carbon/ calorie crops (so we grow calories as well as carbon for the soil). The garden is divided into ¼’s so that the rotation plan works easily.