Friday, November 30, 2007

Lettuce Celebrate!

To much excitement our labour and love is starting to reap rewards! We used our first harvest from the garden. Our lettuce are huge and needed eating.

Tacos were on the menu and so was our home grown lettuce. We picked the outside leaves, gave them a good wash and YUM!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

East Coast VS West Coast

The East Coast VS West Coast rivalry is not just limited to the US rap scene, it is also proving an issue in our garden too!

The west side is thriving, leaving the east far behind! We predicted the cucumbers to grow the fastest, whilst the ones in the pots are fantastic, the ones we planted in the east side of the patch are really slow to take off! So too are the capsicums and chillis.

The potatoes seem to be doing really well, although they make us nervous...if only we could see what was going on under the soil! Our apprehension probably stems from the fact we only recently learnt about the Potato Famine...

The Great Irish Famine or The Great Hunger (An Gorta Mór or An Drochshaol in Irish) reduced the population of Ireland by 20 to 25 percent between 1845 and 1852. The proximate cause of the famine was a pathogenic water mold, Phytophthora infestans, commonly known as potato blight. Though P. infestans ravaged potato crops throughout Europe during the 1840s, its human cost in Ireland was exacerbated by a host of political, social, economic, and climatological factors which remain the subjects of heated historical debate.
The famine was a watershed in the history of Ireland. Its effects extended well beyond its immediate demographic impact and permanently changed the island's political and cultural landscape. For both the native Irish and those in the resulting diaspora, the famine entered folk memory and became a rallying point for various nationalist movemnets. Virtually all modern historians of Ireland regard it as a dividing line in the Irish historical narrative, referring to the preceding period of Irish history as "pre-Famine."

source: Wikipedia.org

This is the pontiac potato seed we planted, having never seen one before we were intrigued by the U.F.O shaped bulbs.

Below is a current aerial view of our garden, we are amazed and proud that in just a few weeks our garden is now looking like a real veggie patch!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bill Hicks says "pot should be mandatory!"

To feed our addiction further, we decided to experiment with pots and baskets. There was some great sunlight out the front so we are utilising this energy food source.

Here are the cucumbers we hope to grow up the lattice (we had two spare seedlings so potted them in a pot...fingers crossed they work!)

...And two weeks later, they are thriving!

The cucumbers are doing much better in the pots than the patch, however the same cannot be said for the lettuce. In the patch they are huge, since we added our beer traps, the snails are not eating them and they are rockin'...but still small in the baskets! We are thinking maybe the lettuce is too cramped for the baskets, we should move two and let them take off!...

The strawberries and basil are doing much better in pots too!

We also have three baskets of oregano, three pots of parsley and one pot each of thyme and rosemary. Our experiment with pots is working amazingly, we simply used a good quality potting mix, and positioned in a sunny location. No wonder Bill Hicks (comedian) says "pot should be mandatory"...mmm...is this what he means?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

"A snail walks into a bar..."

The vegetables are thriving, and so are the pests!
To naturally help ward off pests and attract predators we planted amongst the vegetables some chamomile, lavender and heaps of marigold. Initially we had eight lettuce seedlings, suddenly two were gone. Our garden gatecrashers were starting to attack, we had to take more action!

Keeping our patch totally organic we decided to install a few beer traps, to lure those snails and slugs. We recycled old take-away food containers, dug them into the ground and filled them with beer. We clean out our traps every day or so and refill them with the leftover dregs from all the beer that is consumed in our house. Hey -we can't waste the good beer!!!

We feel a little guilty about getting snails so drunk they die (we hope they're 18+?)

Our 1st victim, R.I.P.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's raining...MULCH!!

We usually love the sunshine and hate the rain, that is, until we started growing our own vegetables. Now when rain is forecast, it is a delight...bring it on!

Our new patch was spoilt with an entire weekend of rainfall, considering we are in severe drought conditions it was a welcome suprise. We have a long, dry summer ahead so we utilised this drenching by mulching the entire patch. Sugar cane mulch seemed our best option, both suitable and inexpensive, we still have half the bag left!

What a result, our soil has remained lovely and moist! Our patch receives all day sun and the mulch has really helped it to not dry out too much.

Our current water restrictions mean NO OUTSIDE WATERING! So, we hydrate our patch with 100% recycled water.

Living in a big share house may mean no clean dishes, toilet paper or milk...but at least there is one huge advantage -more shower water to be saved!!
We bribed the other housemates with yummy 'free' meals once harvest time approaches in exchange for showering with a bucket between their feet.

So far, so good! We are managing to recycle a plentiful amount for the entire patch everyday.


No 'before' photos -DAMN!
Our garden was overgrown about (gasp!) 1 metre! Our beautiful fig tree at the rear was barely visible.
And so it began...weeding, digging, raking, aching...and finally a bare allotment of healthy soil. We decided to add some extra love, we laid down a good mix of mushroom compost, cow and chicken manure.

Waiting four or so weeks for our newly composted soil to chill-out before planting proved impossible. We filled the time by adding a new compost bin and laying our path for easier access.

Too excited to wait we planted some seeds in polystyrene boxes, not much luck so far with those. The Roma tomatoes and basil are growing well but the capsicums and lettuces have done nothing. Next year we will use proper seed raising equipment, we are determined for a better result!

Whether it be a lack of knowledge or possibly patience, we thought stuff the seeds -lets buy seedlings. Shopping for seedlings we were like kids in a candy store, wanting everything!

We bought; corn, tomatoes, potato, Lebanese cucumber, capsicum, chili, spinach, rocket, lettuce, Spanish and spring onions, strawberries and a whole bunch of herbs; sage, basil, parsley, oregano and thyme.

Our seedling adventure took all day, possibly a few too many drinks in the process but by sunset, our babies were finally in the ground and after a good watering were getting cosy in their new homes.