Well, I think I'm really getting into this "farmer" groove thing even though I only have about 600 sq m of land. Went to visit my family in the country these school holidays and they all have chickens. Watching my kids collect the eggs, I suddenly had the urge to grow my own. It was something that I had always wanted to do but seemed like too much effort and not enough space. With those awful hibiscuses gone from down the side, I now have enough space and the holidays have rejuvenated me so also have the energy. Was going to attempt to convert my daughters old cubby house but - having limited space - wanted it to be beautiful and secure so went with a purchased chicken coop. It should be delivered next week and me and the kids will enjoy the long weekend of setting up and painting. I wanted things to be as low maintenance as possible so have also ordered automatic feeders and waterers from Dine-a-chook.
Next is to obviously get my chickens. And I don't want any old scabby chickens. If I've gone to all this effort I want something a bit unique but friendly with kids as they are also going to be much loved family pets (I grew up on a farm where we killed our own -> my mother thinks I'm nuts). The breeds I've narrowed down are Araucana's -> blue eggs and very pretty chickens; Barnelveder; -> dark brown eggs and beautiful chickens. I've sourced those 2 but I would also like to get Ancona chickens for white eggs but can't seem to find any just now. I can't wait to have my 3-4 chickens roaming around the place :)
Next step in terms of lower maintenance gardening is the installation of watering systems for my other garden beds -> the blueberry/asparagus patch and the herb/flower patch. I have 2 different systems setup. In the herb/flower patch, I have 10 olla pots that I made from terracotta pots connected to a blue drum. Notice I had to put cement mesh over the flower bed and stakes in the herb bed as my dog and cat seem to think that this is their own personal digging around area. Not much in there now but I've planted a whole bunch of zinnia's, pansies, carnations & rannunculis seeds. I hope that soon I'll have some very pretty flowers.
I don't know if I would recommend anyone doing these as they were a lot of effort however, they are working well for now. When I visited my Uncle (who also loves to garden and lives in north qld), we talked about my abhorrence of watering, he gave me some Iriso watering spikes to try. So my other blue drum got connected to these and my blueberry/asparagus are now watered by this system. Now these only cost about $39 for the whole kit and the water flow is adjustable for EACH spike. They will also be easy to clean out should they get blocked up as they completely pull apart and they are much easier than the olla pots to move around.
If you look real close at the second image, you can see the drop as its about to fall. If anything happens to the olla pots, I will definitely purchase more of these spikes to replace that system.
On to my wicking beds. They are still going great except I've got one problem bed. The one I've tried to get brassicas to grow in is just not co-operating. This is the one where I originally planted beans but they got some kind of virus/bacterial disease that caused rotting stems and curled leaves. The brassica's have never thrived and only 2 have survived after numerous attempts at planting. The pawpaw seeds I chucked into it seem to be doing great though? I thought it might be a problem with the bean seeds so put them in a styrofoam wicking bed and they are doing fine so that seems to indicate something wrong with the soil.
This is in comparison to my newest bed which was only planted out at the end of Feb. It is completely overgrown with the tomato's, cucumbers and peas. It looks amazingly healthy, have been harvesting cucumbers for 2 weeks now and my first pea and tomato flowers have appeared. BLISS! :)
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