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Getting started on my vegie patch...

Hi guys,

2 years after Kevin ripped out our last vegie patch, we have decided to start again..

I think the best way to start and maintain a edible garden is to start with a few chooks.. My 8 beautiful girls are giving me between 5 to 7 eggs a day.. it provide me with my first edible item from my yard (the eggs not the chooks :wink: )

For the last couple of months, the girls not only supply us with yummy eggs, they have also been busy turning the ground inside their run, making the soil nice and fluffy and fill with nutrient.. We made the decision to move their run every couple of months (maybe just every 6 months at season change) and use the old site as a vegie patch.

What you can see is where the chook run used to be, we moved it to a new location and use the lawn edging material to frame the existing plot and keep the soil within the boundry..
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As soon as we moved the existing run to a new site, the exposure of the bare ground entice the girls in there and they were busy digging and turning the ground for us.

The chook not only help getting the ground ready for us, they will also destroy any plant we are going to grow in there, so we got some of those Bunning's Garden Tidies to fence off the plot.. I let the girls stay in there a bit longer after fencing off because that will be the last time they are allowed in there.
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The other important ingredient for my edible yard is a worm farm...

I found a Swag worm farm on the www last month, I like the new way to farming worms and decided to give it a go.. I order one on-line for $99 and pay extra for some worms..
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The way this work, you put a bucket under the Swag, it will collect the worm pee... this is know to the gardeners as liquid gold.. it is suppose to be a very potent fertilizer that you dilute with water and water the garden with it.
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some of the worm pee collected overnight..

We feed the worm by giving them kitchen scrap, we just leave the scrap on the top and cover it with a moist heision (spelling).. we are suppose to rotate the position with the feed, so for I been leaving the food on the left side.. but this morning I start to leave the food on the right side, this is to encourage worm activity within the farm.

When I got the farm about a month ago, I was a bit disappointed, as I can't see any obvious worms activity but one or two very small worms about the size of 2 cm length cotton thread.. I practically have to dig around the material to fine them.. I decided to feed them for one month to see how it go with the worms number, otherwise I was going to top it up with mature worms from Bunning...

When I feed the worm yesterday morning, I saw a couple of worms trying to escape from the light (me lifting the heision cover) so I decided to investigate..

I lift some composed material and this is what I see..
worms trying to escape the light
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I dig a bit deeper and look what I found
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My worms are growing and multiplying.. I am so happy.. one more month I will be able to harvest some worm casting and use it to fertilize my vegie patch. The worm casting can be collected by loosen the tie at the bottom of the Swag and it will fall out.. apparently the worm should stay put because it will stay close to the surface as that is where the food is.. I will find out next month...

So these is what I have so far, before my vegie patch...

This is a herb called Betel leaves, we use it in Vietnamese cooking, you wrap around some meat and put it on the BBQ.. yummy...
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This is Pandanus leaves, it is a common herb use in Malaysian cooking, you can find it in dessert as well as savory.. When my sister give me some, it was only 3 leaves.. it just grow.. due to the chook pooh.. my sister's plant still only have 3 leaves so she asked me for some chook pooh..
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I have this sage and rosemary in the pots for a long time, it just won't die :roll: but it never grow very well either.. but as soon as they get some chook pooh added to the pot, it just burst..
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Now, back to my vegie patch..
I have a couple of Chili plant.. the chooks got to when OH forgot to cover it again after picking some red chili.. they have been stripe bare of leaves.. luckly the chili survive the attach.. I relocate them from the old spot into this chook safe vegie patch :roll:
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These are corn that was sprout from the corn I used to feed the chook.. as they are for the chook so it does not matter if it is not fit for human consumption.. as long as it have corn for the chook it will be good enough..
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Zucchini from seedling.. (my first cheat :)), but only 2 out of 4 seedling survive..
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Some radish seeds I throw in during the week.. just spouted.. I got more seeds from Florence, so going to put another row in next Sunday..
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What I am going to do next are to get my potted citrus (which is struggling to survive) onto the ground.. need to find a sunny spot in the yard to plant them..

I am going to see if I can use this threat as some form of journal and keep it up to date as more seeds go in and when the plant grow... (I posted this on the BYP gardening section, but I think it might be more productive here) :thumbs:

Last but not least.. Kevin's quails, still waiting for them to lay..
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Comment by Vanessa Collier on May 28, 2010 at 14:13
Looks like you've done the leg work before jumping into a vegie patch, and you're reaping the rewards. Looking good so far. You've inspired me to look after my worms a little better and after only a week there seem to be more/bigger worms.
Comment by Florence on May 25, 2010 at 9:02
LOL, good on you Donna, keep poaching :P
Thanks for reminding me about the corns ... here's what I posted before http://brisbanelocalfood.ning.com/photo/corn-comparison-on-20091202...

It's great to go through all the previous blogs and forums if you have the time, a wealth of information there Joanne ~ Also, try to plant the choi sum etc before planting the radish.. or you may end up growing radish greens, or mutant radish ...
Comment by Donna on May 25, 2010 at 8:29
What a great blog, glad I poached you from BYP ;)

I find it very useful to have blogs to go back and see what was planted where and how each went. Very impressed with the chicken tractor - it looks like a very easy way to get your garden ready, if you have a bit of patience.

I will be interested to hear how your worm farm comes along, I did get two of the styrafoam boxes awhile ago but totally neglected them - just don't find the time at the moment! Maybe one day I'll try again...

Not sure how you will go with the corn from the chicken feed, think Florence had one come up but it had no kernels at all just the hob - very likely to be a F1 hybrid. Also it might be a bit cold for corn at the moment, think they do better in the heat ... I know they thrive in our very hot summer!

I have small wooden boxes made from fence palings around my fruit trees in the lawn, I tried a number of things before going to a solid wall - the grass just keeps growing through if you don't and it becomes a huge chore to weed all the time. Along one side of our backyard there were so many fruit trees and garden beds that hubby (IF) got sick of the mowing and put a concrete edge all the way down and turned the whole lot into a garden. That is where my perennial plants and things that sprawl go. Instead of digging up the grass, we got a free load of green woodchips from a local stump grinder and dumped it very thickly on top of the grass. Worked really well and although you can't do anything with it for about six months it is a lot easier than mowing or digging up all the grass, and also a good alternative to using posion.
Comment by Scarlett on May 23, 2010 at 22:10
It looks fantastic, I love the chook tractor, and am entranced by the quails - I haven't seen anyone keeping quails for years. They are such dear looking little birds aren't they? Like something in a fairy tale.

Yes, I don't think citrus would enjoy competing with native trees much. If you keep a good circle (at least 50cm as they establish) around them mulched and grass free they'd be OK in the lawn. I reckon citrus make a good feature tree for lawns. I agree you can't keep much under citrus - although orchids in pots can work OK, and very drought tolerant ornamentals are OK outside the dripline. You would end up having to make an edge or a bed around them, so I can understand why they might not be any good in the lawn (especially for whoever does the mowing ;)

I'm interested in your sage and rosemary - I think mine could do with a feed by the look of that!
Comment by Florence on May 23, 2010 at 21:28
I meant to get those compost cage for a long time, kept forgetting... I really need to fence up areas where I have my seeds freshly sown.. especially those near the chook run... my leghorns have found they can fly again after moulting and has been escaping >__< even after I trimmed their wings again!!

I am really interested in how those quail goes..

About the citrus, I don't think it's really a good idea to plant them on the lawn as there will be too much competition from the grass, and very difficult to mow around... unless you mean you're going to make a new bed on the lawn for the trees. If I were to plant my citrus again now, I will spend more time in preparing the planting hole, and mount up a mound to plant my trees into.. all my citrus are struggling..
Comment by Joanne Chung on May 23, 2010 at 19:28
Thanks for the advise regarding the citrus tree.. in that case, the spot I have in mind will not work because there's already 2 trees (native) in close proximity..

For some reason, Kevin don't want those trees plant directly onto the lawn.. he want them on a garden bed some where.. and all the beds have some tree or rather on them.. maybe one day I will jut put those tree in the ground on the lawn while he is away ;)

The swag is hang on the support beam for the pergola it should be strong enough to support my weight.. hope the swag don't get heavier than me..
Comment by Elaine de Saxe on May 23, 2010 at 18:48
Great, Joanne :-) It's looking very promising!

Read about using chooks to prepare ground, yours is the first time I have seen the results.

The corn from the chook food will be perfectly edible - just not the 'sweet corn' you are used to. Pick it as soon as the silks turn brown and you can enjoy it just as much as sweet corn. Eat raw or cook it in the microwave in its husk - on high for 3 minutes, let cool a little then peel off all the husk and the silks. Yummmmm.

When you plant out your citrus trees, make sure the drainage is perfect and that there are no plants closer than the drip line. Citrus don't like competition and they are surface-rooted.

Good luck with the worm swag - it will get very heavy I imagine so finding a permanent home in the shade which is strong enough to hang it could be a challenge.

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