Monday, 31 March 2008

Autumn Days

The year is just flying by! At last I've cleaned up most of the greenhouse garden after the wet season. A friend brought me some fresh sawdust for the paths and I've removed the overgrown and spent plants and put in some sugarloaf cabbage, various lettuce, broccoli and silverbeet so far. I have more seeds germinating nicely in styrofoam boxes, pots and punnets, as well as in the fresh manure and mulch laid on the beds. It should be a jungle again in no time!

The cucumber vine which came from Greenpatch's Summer Permaculture Seed Mix is setting it's first tiny fruit. I hope they're lovely and we get some before it gets too cold. The pumpkins are still producing, so we have a good store of pumpkins and more to come. Winged Beans are climbing prettily over the back of the greenhouse - their delicate leaves and flowers as lovely as the frilly pods. I'm getting the last of the butter and bush beans picked, and hoping another variety comes along more quickly to replace it. There are some local "Italian Beans" from Seed Savers I'll be trying. I want to grow lots of peas this winter too. I have some yellow cherry tomatoes fruiting, and some more tomatoes just starting to flower. I have had trouble with wilt recently, so I hope that by growing the large tomatoes in pots I get to harvest some before winter. We've had nothing like the gluts we had at our old house, where I dried and bottled roma tomatoes for weeks, but I'm sure we'll get there as I build up the soil and find the right areas in which to plant things. It did take me a good while at our old place to get it right too!

Soon the yacon and yams should be ready to harvest, and probably the ginger and tumeric etc too. All of these tropical plants die off during Autumn and it's time to harvest for next planting season. The sweet potatoes are rambling wildly and I'm not sure how to get in there to harvest except clear the whole lot. Someone told me that if I miss any, just watch for new sprouts and I'll know where to dig - sage advice! I'm sure the horses and chickens will love picking through the vines - they love to nibble the leaves which poke out from the greenhouse. I'm not sure I'll get chokos or aerial potatoes from my vines until next summer, because they were late getting into the ground. I'm just happy to see them becoming established after a bit of trial and error.

Our chickens are doing really well - breeding, coming of age and producing plenty of eggs. We ate our first two roosters a couple of weeks ago and that went well overall. I think we'll do it again since we intend to keep breeding chickens. We've been vegetarian and/or only eaten fish for a long time (over 14 years), so this was a big deal to us. The ethics of food is a complex issue, but I do feel that eating a little organic, home-grown flesh is probably the best choice for our health, our planet (and our budget).

Today I fed the fruiting trees and some other plants with a smelly concoction of diluted horse manure, seasol, minerals, fish emulsion and comfrey - all mixed up with water and applied with a watering can. I'm hoping this will please my first planting of stone fruit who suffered from some bothersome insect in spring. The leaves were nibbled and stung and turned yellow. I applied pyrethrum as suggested by the nursery where I purchased them - a farmer who specialises in stonefruit. Many dropped off and I feared the trees were dying - our first casualties. But today I see there are new green leaves coming on and the first blossoms now that our nights are cool. Let's hope today's 'tea' encourages more of the same!

The cherry guavas are still fruiting and we've found several yellow guava trees too. The aroma of this fruit is such a delight. Hopefully when there are more ripe fruit I can make some jam or jelly and preserve the sweetness to enjoy over the coming months. We have bucketloads of macadamia nuts, which is fantastic. They keep well so we're just collecting and peeling. We keep a basket of fresh nuts and the BONK handy for ourselves and our guests to enjoy. I bought this nutcracker from eBay Australia and it's the best tool for the toughest nuts around!

And so, the abundance continues and I am counting my blessings and enjoying the lessons and the harvest.

No comments: