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9779373069?profile=originalThis weather has not been kind to me. My body has been protesting the moisture while those few times I feel up to doing some kitchen garden labors, no sooner I get started on my chores when it rains.

Wet weather, as we know, promotes verdancy for green leaf things so long as they don't rot. While the tomatoes may suffer, the 'weeds' are going crazy.

This is the case with my abundant coverage of Scurvy Weed.of which I have often written. But the convergence of this wet weather and my poor health, was worsened by the massive growth of Scurvy Weed through my vegetable growing patch. I ask myself: what have I done? I have created a Triffid monster.

Seemingly, every time I pulled it up it grew again in the space  I made. The Scurvy Weed mat of growth can be  30cm deep and when you remove by pulling you can get piles of the stuff.

As you may know, all my garden senses -- and the earthworms -- are telling me that this is a great green living mulch. That my soil is so much better for knowing it. But...but ...I need to plant comestibles where it grows.

Today, after putting off the task, I decided I'd plant out some seedlings. I knew that I was up against it as my last plantings were quickly over run by Scurvy Weed. Then the chooks got out and ate my lettuces...

I was soooo frustrated!

But I'm not dumb (as I'd always assumed ).

In the past I have brush cutter-ed the SW, ran my sickle through it and pulled it out by hand --- but it never occurred to me to rake it. You know as in garden rake.

Scurvy weed is so shallow rooted it comes apart easily, and a pull of the rake is just the thing to make a clearing. --a clearing surrounded by a mound of SW. The rake just scrapes the surface and upsets only a few worms living at the soil penthouse level. You don't drag the dirt, like a dozer, you merely scrape the top and the Scurvy Weed comes away uprooted.

No bending or exertion.

What I do to this soil surface once I plant out my seedlings is an issue I'm thinking about. Do I mulch it with Vetiver straw and allow the SW to return unchallenged (as it will grow through or aszpread over most mulches, cardboard, and weed mats ) ? Or do I leave rake spaces between the plants so that I can keep up the scraping as required?  That is, mulch everywhere (with SW) except where I grow my plants.

To not mulch to me seems a mortal sin.

You may ask why do I persist with this weed?  The answer may be subjective but it makes a sort of warped logic in my head.

  1. Scurvy weed covers the whole garden in a green mulch under which the soil thrives. It's like permanent fallow. If I'm not using an area to grow edibles I allow SW to take over.
  2. Scurvy weed displaces all other weeds that do much more damage and are harder to deal with than SW.
  3. Scurvy weed is so shallow rooted that underground , at least, it does little damage to the surrounding comestibles
  4. Scurvy weed is easy to remove from your plot (but not for good) and the removed biomass is simply recycled as mulch or fed to weed tea or the chooks. I'd prefer to chop up the pulled SW, but I don't have the machinery.
  5. Scurvy weed is green and luxurious, convoluted and soft, such that it promotes its own moist microclimate.

So who da thought that my super tool was a humble rake?

 

 

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May 2022

Hi everyone

Things have been busy (and wet!) for me these last six months, a bit of a radical change. Transitioned to the countryside, starting a new veg patch, building infrastructure, clearing weeds, planting trees.. all while wet, wet, wet. I am pretty off grid at the moment until we get set up properly, so significantly reduced energy and water consumption, by happenstance rather than intention. This means I look for alternatives to food preservation (small bar fridge, no freezer, no conventional oven, 1 portable hotplate so no canning!) but importantly storage - from rats and mould! (soooo much mould EVERYWHERE). I've found coconut milk powder to be a great alternative for the pantry... am on the look out for some tomato powder to reduce cans (take up space - in the pantry and in the fridge as never seem to use whole can). Cathie suggested making dehydrated tomato powder by drying out tomato paste and blending, while waiting for that bumper harvest to dry and blend. 

I am a bit upset that I haven't been able to make much use of my Sun Oven - though on the rare ocassions I have been able to, I think it's great. I bought it to bake my sourdough but sadly just haven't had enough sunlight!

This wet weather has impacted my chookie's health - Andy has been super helpful for Miracle chook who has survived a hawk attack, mites/lice/worms?, anemia, a cold.. she is doing well. Makes it sounds like I've had poor animal husbandry but really, this damp weather has been the bane of our existence. I have a second hand steel coop to install one weekend when the weather is kind. 

Giving the fertility where I am, I've been looking at ways to beat the weeds. No mean feat. I've been looking into syntropic farming most recently, which is an interesting mix of techniques to increase yield and plant health through (in brief) intense multi-cropping and lots of chop-n-drop mulching. I've been using cassava and moringa has my canopy for now as I'm able to snap of some branches and just stick them in the ground! Also building up diversity with sambung which is growing well, suriname spinach, spring onions, then sowing annuals - lettuce, pak choi, flowers! and tomatoes - plus salvias,sunflowers, zinnias, geraniums, peanuts... I'll keep you posted how these new beds go. Trying to plant free things that like to live and produce food - as I've sunk too much $$ already in trees and things that wont grow. The plan is to plant plant plant so the ground is covered and soil active to control the nasty weeds. 

I've also invested in some ankle height gumboots that have been great!

Happy gardening :)

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Green Leaf Powder production

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I'm making up another batch of Green Leaf Powder from plants I grow.
Sprinkled on whatever, they make for a great nutritional hit. A teaspoon or two here or there is a great substitute to preparing the plants from their just-picked state.
While the Chaya is pre-boiled the only processing is washing, drying and grinding --and everything is prepped quickly after harvest.
Once the final blend is completed, I have local orders pending for the powder.
It's a form of CSA -- Community Supported Agriculture.
Although, this seasonal harvest (April, 2022) I doubt that I will be able to fulfil demand.
Good thing is that a few grams of this stuff lasts a long time when doled out via spoonfuls.
As to the efficacy of the leaves in the mix, I suggest people do their own research.
Botanical names on the left. 'Common' names on the right.
In my experience, the powder is tasteless.
Generally, from its fresh-picked state, the ratio for this harvest is roughly equal parts of each plant-- dried, combined and powdered.
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We're moving the grass!

 

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We decided that GrowVetiver has outlived its current growing leasehold. So we went looking for more land that we can expand our plantation on. 

We sure found it!

Talk about landing on your feet. We'll be putting down our  roots on a new plot of soil not very far from where we are now.

It has water. Great soil. Carbon rich. Moist. Easy access.Wonderful landlords.

We're delighted.  

Our plan is to uproot and shift our nursery in September. That's sure to be one big logistical headache, as we'll be expanding the area under cultivation by a factor of at least five. That's digging up, moving, dividing and planting.

To state the obvious: we'll not run out of stock again! That's our major handicap. For us, demand outstrips supply every year.

This is a major expansion of our Vetiver project, but all indications are promoting optimism on our part. We can expect to go quickly from a supply base of 5,000 to 30,000...then to 100,000+ plants.

Yesiree, that's serious  horticulture.

 

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Back to the garden


Hi everyone, 

Well it's been a while.  I have slowly been getting back into the garden since I broke my leg and am tackling the jobs 1 by 1.

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 Luckily for me that while my husband has no initiative of his own to do any gardening chores, I can point him at the big jobs and he's happy to look after me that way.   While I'm now walking, gardening is slow and painful and I can't Carry anything heavy so between my husband and kids, I've managed to start the garden. 

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Today, I repotted strawberry runners and replanted the best of my mother plants into a garden bed that doesn't ever have much growing in it.  

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My bishop crown capsicums are still pumping out fruit.  I turn these into chilli jam and use them in a capsicum sauce for meatloaf. 

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The pumpkin out the back regrew and tthe council hasn't yet ripped out my back garden so it is wild out there.  Between that and the surviving farm pumpkins after the flood, I think we'll have pumpkins for a year which was my goal this year to not have to buy them. 

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Choko's are also an awesome producer this year.  I made a mock apple pie and we have been eating stuffed choko for dinner regularly. I also made a potato bake with these guys in them as well that everyone loved.  

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The ginger has also been amazing! I harvested some last week for the chilli jam and the rhizomes are huge, fat and healthy. 

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Citrus look like they'll be starting soon.  Mandarins and grapefruit should be ready by the end of the month. 

Lots of pruning and mulching is on your the cards for the next few weeks but who knows when I'll get to it.  My middle daughter moved out yesterday so we've been busy sorting her out and cleaning out her room so I'll need to give hubby a day off or so before I put him to task with the outside stuff. 

that's it from me guys, hope to see you soon. 

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Long time no see!

Good morning!

Been a while since I had a moment to pop here, hope everyone is doing well!

Been learning a LOT about how fast weeds can take over, chickens and ducks and PUMPKINS! 

I will post some photos soon, but I need to cure quite a few pumpkins and anything on the ground gets eaten (apparently we might have Bandicoots, though I suspect rats are more likely). Has anyone ever strung pumpkins up to hang them about to cure? Might give that a go.

Sid

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When I preserve things like pineapple or pawpaw, I use a medium syrup with citric acid or lemon juice as required. Then when I go to use it, the syrup is drained off, and goes down the drain. At the moment, I'm preserving a lot of red pawpaw, so using a lot of syrup. We are trying to reduce sugar use, but the preserving recipes call for the medium syrup, and I am unwilling to stray from that.

Does anyone have any ideas about re-using the syrup? Can I store it in the fridge and use it for another batch? What, if anything, can it be used for that doesn't involve worm farms or compost heaps? I hate to see it go to waste.

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Maybe you know me as a fermenter -- and that's not about my relentless ageing.014+Istanbul+pickles+cihangir+cukurcuma.JPG?profile=RESIZE_400x

I make yogurt, kombucha and kimchi -- and while I used to ferment a lot of other stuff, I keep my ferment activities simple and containable.

I had not been interested in pickling because of the salt -- and sugar -- content. You know policing your dietary intake for reasons of health care.

For those interested, here is the traditional Turkish pickle recipe. From Refika. 

  • The magical measurement for the brine, 4 cups (1 litre) water 1/3 cup (80 ml) vinegar 3 tablespoons rock or sea salt Whatever vegetable you want to pickle (Turkish favourites are cabbage, cucumber, green pepper, carrot) Garlic 3-6 cloves (for taste) Chickpeas (2-6) or a slice of sourdough bread -2-3 cm cubes- (for it to mature) • Mix 4 cups water and 1/3 cup vinegar. Add 3 tablespoons rock or sea salt and mix until salt is dissolved • Once salt is dissolved brine will be ready. • You are then ready to make pickles with whatever vegetables you like. • Place those vegetables tightly in a jar . Make sure that there is no space left between them. This would prevent floating after brine is added. • Then add 3 cloves of garlic and 5 dry chickpeas to the jar to enhance flavour and fast fermentation. Ensure that garlic and chickpeas are scattered everywhere inside the jar. • Fill the jar with brine till all vegetables are covered with it. • Close the jar with a new lid to prevent air flowing through the jar. • Keep the pickle in a dark and cool place about three weeks or a month it will be ready.[VIDEO DIY]

10223308876?profile=RESIZE_400xThe Turks are the great picklers. In Instanbul, etc you will find shops specialising only in pickles of all sorts (example image above).

But of late -- following on from my celebration of Balsamic Vinegar use at any excuse, I turned my attention to vinegars as a great hack for diabetes. The family curse.

  • FYI: I had been doing OK with my blood sugars but despite following a low carb diet I still had a problem with overnight blood sugar spikes. How could I bring it down? Well, there are three diabetic 'hacks'  I've discovered. The first is to eat Chaya leaves. The second is to consume Inulin (think Jerusalem artichokes). And the third is to hit yourself up with a nip of vinegar -- ie: an acetic acid tipple.(I'll let you do your own Googling re these hacks.)

While kombucha is fairly acid -- and will turn into vinegar if you brew it long enough -- I find that adding Balsamic Vinegar to a chilled glass of kombucha is really refreshing.

I'd call it delicious.

That may be a pickle workaround, but when you get a taste for the sourness of culinary life,  you find you want more.

In the Turkish recipe you could cut the salt back to 2 tablespoons -- but you can also do away with the  salt -- and sugar -- altogether, by relying on whole spices(of choice), garlic ..  and carrots for sweetness -- in a bath of pure white vinegar. No water. Refrigerated, the pickle is ready in 3 days.

So the pickle is whatever veg plus carrots.

Obviously, no lacto-fermentation is involved. You will get a tasty and very crisp pickle.

This approach is close to the ubiquitous Vietnamese radish/carrot pickle -- Đồ chua .

The Turks -- and the Vietnamese -- may prefer to have pickle at every meal.The Arabs and Greeks and northern Indians will sour up with yogurt or a lemon juice dressing at table. But here, the pickle seems to adhere to the McDonalds burger  protocol of being primarily a saccharine hit. SUGAR ++ plus vinegar.

Aside from taste the low pH to be consumed with pickle intake is known to be metabolically remarkable. Maybe under researched -- but 'vinegar' per se is kosher rather than paying out big for high end Balsamic or organically brewed Apple Cider Vinegar. (Indeed, sourdough's healthy attributes have a lot to do with its acidity.)

And besides, you can clean your windows and kill your weeds with any leftovers...

Much as I appreciate my kimchi -- its flavour profile does not go with every meal. In contrast, your everyday pickle --  of whatever -- is very versatile.

  • FYI: Vinegars --especially Balsamic -- are great to cook with. Apple Cider vinegar in pork dishes. Balsamic in beef stews and sauces. Replacing wine in a dish.  Traditionally, chorizo sausages contain a good slurp of vinegar -- even the Goan variety. Vinegar is an essential marinade base...it actually 'cooks' the flesh as it purifies it (as it does in the raw fish salad -- ceviche).
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Green Leaf Powder:

AVvXsEjF_OWpm61fbNpTZRDzWCpSeIhN46ug2PVDQ-uJ8CRjyR5fKK70wu0S0vIVfcTQbTc-TWUTVuM9I9F_iktZ7Lo6TSLc8zDhALGWXKhORBsp2i5JR438L2VaIj18_3d9Ludqh6obbbHUrlTavixu1PdwyB4sZPZDgoaplqwe0HoO9eFLRlFJ3tH5SWUHdA=w640-h436I grow a range of different greens. These leaves have awesome nutritional attributes.
But the problem is either finding an excuse to add them to the menu or their taste or texture sabotages my desire to eat them.
I've researched leafy greens for years and knew all about dry leaf powder but only recently have I begun to explore the comestible medium itself.
It's an easy DIY.
While my first experiment was with Chaya, today I dried Moringa leaves and blended them with a low amount of Katuk.
In the image, the desiccated leaves are on the right and the powder makings on the left.
Moringa is fiddly to dry straight from the bush as you get a lot of leaf stems, so leaving the harvest to dry naturally before proceeding is a good idea in order to facilitate the separation of the leaf from the stem before putting in the dehydrator.
Chaya, in contrast, is so much easier. I parboil the leaves first, pull them apart and then dry them before grinding/blending.
For the moment, all I have is a stick blender.
In the kitchen, it's a spoonful here or there added to a dish while preparing. Sprinkled on grilled cheese, in soups and stews, add to smoothies or yogurt. I add the powder to ferments like Kimchi and drink it mixed into Kombucha. You can sprinkle it into salad dressings. Just keep a jar of the powder to hand.
I save the drying sachets you get in food packets nowadays and recycle them in the leaf powder container to keep the moisture level set to dry.
Powdered Moringa is almost tasteless. Blended with Katuk (aka Sweet Leaf) you'll get a flavour boost.
Leafy greens dry quickly in the dehydrator so, as a protocol, it isn't too much spent energy.
And there is no waste. I can fossick outback for greens -- a bit of this and that -- then process the harvest into powder.
So far I've powdered
  • Chaya
  • Moringa
  • Katuk
  • Edible-Leaf Hibiscus.

Next time I'm grinding:

  • Longevity spinach (Sambung)
  • Okinawan spinach
  • Winged bean leaves

If you want to know why, check out the nutritional status of the above leaves. Hypothetically, combos can make one very healthy cocktail.

Since some of these leaves can be problematical, make sure you follow the preparation guidelines. Don't eat too much Katuk in one day  and read this discussion on the preparation of Chaya.

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Now Growing Chaya

AVvXsEjIelKwiGVD1OQAMKkjmbSVPnkTy067R8KJ_ct9Z8MXIO4EcCN9NlGewRKqohhDa8Tr_wzpTQoaNEKAwPk5Lszsmkr1GVZyfJNswjWM66n9d_TInA23il0X8nOfyT_fZf34DnrmLze6OeE10xm34fuYOPNvV6h49qzI6J9ZAf-_ahHfsGX4SnKCGv6C=w640-h640

AVvXsEj2Pg0rNUOGCGTi_aGGIoEph8XPvpwRhSRh0QXFN29pyfVtDzriKWSWrwtGIakgrkOovsyrQvYeFs1vzDs4iz1u-ebQiNPZQAWgdQ25yHQY8l48tXvT0FX1jCJ23s4NaeeyoOcexLKUOoI-yM5EbBZpQu6jPQHn_kwjhZngwZ6rGGPRCn3VsFVCtgRT=w118-h243You may know that we run a Vetiver Grass nursery. While we are on the cusp of expanding the amount of land we have under cultivation, a subsidiary activity may have a dynamic that will allow for some diversification:growing Chaya. Already we have been supplying a few individuals with plant stock. A major retail nursery has even requested cuttings -- but for now I'm trying to quickly advance the number of trees I have growing.
Today we processed a harvest of leaves into dried powder and was surprised at the quantity produced.
Hopefully, once we reach a take-off point we'll be able to offer cuttings, fresh leaves and dried leaf powder.
Please don't go pestering me for stock, as we need to grow on everything we now have. If you do your Chaya Googling you're in for a surprise.
Other so-called 'miracle' plants -- like Kale or Moringa --are handicapped by their poor taste. That's not the case with Chaya once it is prepared.

For those interested, the best Chaya resource online is from Echo --  who promote its cultivation in many Third World countries.

Now with harvest, I get to explore its use in the kitchen. Boiled and chopped up, it merges with many dishes, especially with eggs. The water it's boiled in is a rich nutritional hit too if later consumed.

Air drying and desiccating is another way to safely prep it for consumption. Because of its taste, no one is likely to gag at the meal table. In fact compared to its fellow 'spinaches' the taste is benign. I've made Spanokopita with it and with my next ferment batch, hope to add some prepped leaves to my kimchi.

While Chaya grows easily from cuttings, I'm finding it a tad slow in South East Queensland. But at left is one of our Chaya offspring growing in Cairns. 2 metres tall already and one year old. 

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You've seen me struggle over the years to measure my gardening success or failure.  I've tried weighing.  I've tried converting the weights to money that I'd save in the shops. 

Here is my current answer:

I am self sufficient in most herbs. I don't buy eggs. I buy very little beer and no spirits.  I don't buy compost or mulch. 

I do buy vegetables.  I buy meat.  

I think that is my answer.  

 

 

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This time of year...

This time of year ...with all this rain...the garden goes feral. My one regret is that the Chaya is slower to grow than I had hoped. That's because I love the taste of it. I'm also keen to replicate it ++++. I also have orders for same. So Chaya -- the little b! -- tests my patience.
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Using Vetiver in the Kitchen Garden

Here's a look-see of how my renovated kitchen garden has come together. The core layout plan rests on planted Vetiver clumps rather than hedges, with all vegetable plantings within a 1.5 metre zone around each clump. No beds. No paths. Just mulched ground with Vetiver here and there and plants in between.


 It needs more work of course but the template is clear.

CHAINS & CONTAINERS

As for the chains: they're from an aluminium curtain and so far they are working great. Just the right presentation for climbers like beans to attach. For tomatoes, it's an easy wind on without fear of slashing their stems.

After my success with my milkcrate garden I'm finding that growing some vegetables in containers is good business. When I water the container, any water that drains through enters the soil below. As the weather shifts, I can move these containers around to full sun or part shade to suit their disposition.

My hack is that I use my own soil to fill my containers so that presumes I make my own -- which I  do.(Soil + Manure + Wood chips) And all that mulching and Vetiver growing makes great soil. That and the chooks with their scratching about and pooing.

As you see I also use wood chips. There is cardboard under all that chippery and there is no better material than wood chips to hold the cardboard down. Any weed breakthrough is dealt with by laying over a patching of cardboard and more mulch.

Over time the main mulch cover will be cut Vetiver grass, but I reckon a layer of wood chips at least annually is a good idea.

This garden is bore-water fed, although I hand water the pots.I usually turn the bore water sprinklers on once per week.

SEEDLINGS

To plant seedlings into this garden, either use an augur or a stabbing tool. I made one by attaching a very short star post to the end of a short broomstick. You just want a hole of a size  to accommodate a seedling in a tight fit.

Once planted, I mark every seedling with a bamboo stake.

  1. So I can find it
  2. So neither I or the dogs will step on it.

It's remarkable. I may have to scoop some wood chips out of the hole to make room for the seedling, but I have not lost one seedling -- not one!

At present, I'm planting seedlings in groups while I explore various patterns. Sometimes I like to divide the plantings into two separate locations in case one spot prove inhospitable. If shade, part shade or no shade is involved, your planted seedlings will mature to harvest at different rates. That will give you a staggered supply. That way you will avoid gluts.

Compared to the way I gardened before, this layout seems ever so neat. Well it isn't neat so much as navigable as before I was losing produce in the jungle because I could not find it when foraging for food.

This openness is much appreciated by the dogs. For my part, I find walking about the garden between the plnats brings out the peasant in me.

 

 

 

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Chickens

I have been wanting to keep a few chickens in the garden, the boss won't agree so I went out a bought a couple anyway, they have settled in really well , pic attached

Ron

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Coriander conundrum

This year, I had a REALLY good crop of Coriander. Planted in the shade of a pawpaw tree in early April, it grew and thrived for months giving us lots of luscious leaves, and then as the weather heated up and the pawpaw tree got removed, it went to seed, as was to be expected. The plants grew taller than me (ie quite tall), and were covered in flowers and then 'seeds', and I was looking forward to a good crop of coriander seed - but that was not to be. All the little round seed capsules were empty. Now, my garden has LOTS of flowers - Queen Anne's Lace, Alyssum, Zinnia, Pentas etc etc, so lots of pollinator attractants, and I always have honey bees, native stingless bees, flies, hoverflies, etc.. Does anyone know what caused the abysmal seed production? I have collected viable seed of coriander in past years, though never from such huge bushes.

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Cardboard and Wood Chips Mulching

9779379053?profile=originalI don't know why I refuse to leave well enough alone.

I can't help myself. A kitchen garden that grows annuals is  an elastic  medium. With the seasons and such there are any number of excuses to change the design. Guess I'm not much of a Permaculturalist.

As it happens I am sick of foraging for my harvest. My penchant for jungling means I do not have an easy grab for a bite as I am losing too much food hiding in the greenery.

Since I've also taken my penchant for milk crate gardening to another level I'm less dependent on my beds. I really need them to make soil in the way only dirt, plants and critters can. And I've done well with the making of the soil outback. Like some holy transubstantiation I have turned it from sand to loam.

All my own work -- in partnership with Nature's ways and means.

At 'the farm' -- our Vetiver plantation -- we have planted out thousands of slips in beds covered with cardboard and woodchips.  It works for us real good. While I cut the Vetiver grass for at home mulching, I need more than I've cut so far.

SO I thought  what works at the farm should work at home. So I've covered my beds with cardboard and laid down a blanket of woodchips on top of that. In time the cut Vetiver stems will be joining the layering, but for now, our farm houses a huge pile of woodchips -- some of which I'm stealing for domestic use.

I've done a few other things too as part of this revamp:

  • 9779378478?profile=originalI've placed planted out milk crates on the beds so they drain to the soil below
  • I've rejigged my overhead aerials to run aluminium chains down to climbers and ramblers (like tomatoes) below. Better than string or rope because these things offer purchase. It's chain curtaining that I got el cheapo from an Op shop. Should last me forever (pictured right).
  • I've done away with paths so that I can walk wherever I want between the plants I've planted by stepping on the woodchip carpet

I've mentioned this before this video has impressed me greatly:this is my primary inspiration.

Now that I have the soil that actually will grow things, I can be more selective with what I do with it.

I use the soil I have made as part of a simple mix for my containers like milkcrates. In them I'm growing plants that are either hard to grow or are vulnerable or expensive -- and I let the more feral species grow in the beds. Squashes. Tomatoes. Radishes. Greens.

Like Alice does.

I also appreciate her shade. I'm unlikely to throw shade cloth over my beds -- but I do use climbers on my aerials not only to protect my plants from the hot sun but I need a cooler spot if I'm going to work out there. As It is, I stay out of the garden between 11am and after 3pm most days because of the heat in Summer.

If I can cool it to an ambience that suits me without the plants suffering unduly -- I'm keen.

I also woodchip mulch my containers and, as Alice suggests elsewhere, use some chips in my potting mix as a carbon reserve.

A layer of cardboard boxes flattened out plus a topping of woodchips makes for an awesome mulch blanket. To plant I need to stab through it to the soil below.

The cardboard is plentiful by dumpster diving at the local shopping centre.

The woodchips are got by hailing down tree cutters and negotiating  with them to get their load of chips for free (or for a few cans of beer).

This woodchip makeover is carpeting the soil between my Vetiver clumps here at home as the Vetiver has functions unique to itself in way of  hydrating the upper layer of soil and sponsoring microbiology.

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Dried Tomatoes in oil

I just dried a pile of cherry tomato halves in the dehydrator (thanks, Andy). I'm thinking of storing them in oil in the fridge. Has anyone else done this, and if so, how long did you keep them for? I have seen all sorts of advice on the web - some contradictory- and am unsure if this is worth doing. An alternative is to just dry them till they are completely desiccated and grind them to a powder as has been suggested here before. Any advice gratefully accepted.

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In Praise of Black Nightshade

9779377879?profile=originalFolks generally seem to be unaware of the merits of one of my favourite "weeds", Solanum nigrum or Black Nightshade.  And those who are aware, often confuse it with its cooler climate cousin, deadly nightshade, and give it a wide birth.

This plant is a gem though.

Firstly, you can eat the leaves as a cooked green.  This isn't a huge deal as the leaves aren't that big and don't have much to distinguish them by flavour.

Secondly. the ripe berries can be used in jams and for making wine.  The best sparkling wine I've made from backyard fruit came from Black Nightshade.  The berries are small though, looking like that of an elderberry, although not produced in such abundance.  I tend to collect the berries as they ripen and accumulate them in the freezer until I have enough to make a bottle of wine.  I've never had sufficient to make more than one bottle at a time.

Lastly, and the real reason I love having this plant in my garden, is that it's the fainting goat of the Solanum family.  This plant is a magnet for the 28-spotted Potato Ladybird Beetle, which in the past has been a real problem for my potato and tomato plants.  A few years back I noticed that the beetles favour the nightshade over my solanum crops and I've been cultivating it ever since.

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The garden come spring

Well spring has surely sprung but I’m still waiting on consistently nice weather before I count my chickens. I have been trying to get all my irrigation updated and ready for summer when there is just no way I’ll get enough time to make sure the watering gets done.  I bought shrubblers from Bunnings and they allow you to adjust the flow rate or even turn them off which is great for my multi Vegie garden bed set up.  I have 3 per bed at the moment

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. I also set up drip irrigation for the “outside the fence” garden. I’ll be removing some of the winter stuff soon and replace it with more summer crops.  I already have corn planted but I’m thing rosellla’s and more tomatoes since they seem to be going so good out there. 

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The harvests are going great.  I’m only buying potato and onions in terms of veggies at the moment.  

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we have plenty of fruit too as mulberries strawberries and blueberries are in abundance and the peaches have started.  Still buying bloody apples though - my kids cannot survive without their apples.   I buy about 20 Per week for the 3 of them.    Once they are grown, I’ll only be eating the fruit I grow dammit! 

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Flowers are just starting to look great.   I’ve got my first and only surviving strawflower in bloom, but damn, she’s pretty!

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My pumpkins are making my garden look like a fairytale right now.  They are growing up through my fence and over my garden shed.  So pretty!

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Ive also got some avocados Ron my Pinkerton.  So excited to see if I’ll actually be able to harvest any this time. 

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lastly, I harvested some honey today so have a look at my real rough and ready approach to honey harvests.  I call it the smoosh and filter method.  

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