Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Summer's here and it's spicy!


















Before - 12/12/08

















After - 30/12/08
(How quickly Corn and Soy beans grow!)

What do you do when you've got 30+ chilli bushes and you go away for 13 days....

....you dry them for later.


Oh it looks like the Marsh Frogs have laid some eggs and tadpoles are emerging - see the bubbles! (Very Cool!)

I can't wait to get a proper pond happening, fed from a proper grey water filtration system and close enough to the house to create a cooling effect.

Current Problems:

1) If we do a couple of washing loads on the weekend it tends to overpower the wetland filter and cloud up the pond water. Not good for fish - but strangely the frogs have been ok...??

2) Plants are getting too big and falling over. Not enough soil to support their size.

3) Without fish, mossies are laying. So far I've had a small pump circulating water which stops the mossies laying. However, with the plants getting so big, it blocks the circulation.

Maybe I'll have to cull one of the plants?


Friday, December 12, 2008

Corn & Soybeans

At last a patch of corn that works!





















+The soybeans climb up the corn, fix nitrogen and are tasty steamed (eaten just like peas in a pod)
+There is some celery in there too
+Paw Paw growing well behind
+New fence on the southern boundary so the passionfruit can catch all the sun.

Fingers crossed we're back from the break in time for the harvest!

The corn and soybeans came from the organic "Green Harvest"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Habanero Frogs














Looks like the rain brought frogs!

Brown striped marsh frogs apparently. I think I may have mistaken a few tadpoles for mosquito larvae - woops! Good to see the grey-water pond is habitable though.

On another note we now have an abundance of chilli! The Thai bird chilli bush is so heavy with spice it almost fell over with the rain. The habanero bushes are also booming, with enough turning orange a week to fill this bowl.

We thought the habanero was the hottest chilli around, until a trip to the Pomona markets taught us otherwise. One particular chilli merchant had almost the full range of habanero bushes either for sale or on order. The orange we have are hot, but the red habaneros we bought are hotter again (the hottest on earth until 1994). He hadn't tried his brown or white habaneros yet, but did talk a little about the Scoville scale. Looks like the Bangladeshi's have the record...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Good Seed Shop

I did the obvious and googled "Seed Shop QLD" and found this.

I like it! It beats the generic Bunnings varieties, I just planted;

1) 'Sweet Purple' Asparagus - "Deep burgundy spears are large, very tender with a mild nutty flavour when cooked; it can also be enjoyed raw due to it's sweetness"


2) 'Lemon' Cucumber - Heirloom variety apple cucumber... fruits are round with a crisp sweet thin yellow skin...


3) 'Thai Pink Egg' tomato - Determinate (non-climbing). Delicious, sweet, pink grape-shaped fruit. Very heavy cropper.



I think I'll order some Snake beans next, they should compliment the corn....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pompoodle vs Chicken...



VS









For anyone that's had something stolen, you'll know this feeling - where's the dog?

The food and water bowls gone, no dog happy to see me, feathers in the backyard.... something was amiss.

As it turns out the neighbours saw the little puffball causing havoc inside the chicken coup soon after I left for work! They took care of him for the day but said one of the chickens wasn't looking too good. There was only a little blood and it looked a little thirsty, but it wasn't until it raised it's head that I cringed.

After few quick calls I discovered all willing and sharp-knife owning friends were busy. I had advice though, do it quickly and make sure you've got a sharp knife if you're going to clean it....

To cut a semi-dramtic story short, the chicken is a metre deep and not in the fridge (my knife wasn't sharp enough).

It really did pain me to see the chicken in such a state. Strangely though, I felt better after it was dead! Killing wasn't enjoyable, but knowing it wasn't in pain made me feel much better about the situation. I know I wasn't attached to the chicken like a pet dog etc, but it does make me ponder over the realities of euthanasia...

Lessons:

1) Either train your dog very well, or have a bloody good fence!
2) Always have a sharp knife in the draw
3) Befriend your neighbours, you never know when you'll need them.


As for the garden, it's finally warming up and it looks like it's going to be a wet summer so I've just planted heaps!

Tomatoes, carrots, spinach, rocket, chives, corn, cucumber, various flowers (great for encouraging predatory bugs).

(The good old days)










Sunday, September 21, 2008

Confit Garden Dark


Straight from the gardenCarrots
Rocket
Coriander
Chocolate Mint

Lightly steamed vegetables with a some crunchy duck and a little chocolate mint to finish.

....


(Alright the duck wasn't from the garden, but we have chickens.....)

Friday, August 29, 2008

How easy are potatoes!


So it's probably been about 6mths of absolutely no maintenance growing. Sweet potato is just a ground cover vine that occasionally grows skyward. All we did was plant one in the middle of a patch. Not a bad harvest really! (There are some struggling carrots in there as well).

We've also got normal potato growing. They're a little more work because occasionally you just have to pile a little more soil on top to create a mound.

You can see the carrots, beetroot, Italian parsley, peanuts & nasturtiums are going well. (Again no maintenance)





This is the Chinese Broccoli. Haven't gotten around to eating them yet. But even after flowering they still look quite edible. (Not to mention looking nice and attracting bees)




Those sweet potatoes again.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Almost Spring...

My guess is we've just had our winter all crammed into one week - and it's finished!

So I've planted some more seeds in the nursery:
+ Sweet Corn (a different variety to last time),
+ Pak Choi,
+ Spinach,
+ Roma Tomato,
+ Cauliflower &
+ Lebanese Cucumber.

By the time the corn has sprouted we will have a circle of soil enriched with months of chicken, coffee grinds and food scraps. Perfect for planting the classic triad of corn, squash/cucumber & beans in the coming warmer months. Everything else we can plant around the edges.

We bought some more chooks, 1 black & 1 white, $14.95 each. They're already laying.

They are a little shy & not used to devouring scraps just yet. We'll see how they like leftover curry in the morning...


Harvesting hasn't been fantastic during winter. Although, I was happy with our solo broccoli after the slug invasion. There have been some midget carrots (although tasty), rocket, baby potatoes and the obligatory keffir lime leaves, basil, ginger, thyme etc.

...and for anyone with a hint of patience....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Chicken Dinner



Strong Imagery Below- BE WARNED


It has been cold (for Brisbane) and our chickens had stopped laying. So I invited the 'butcher' around among other open minded friends to dinner....

The images following might not be what everyone wants to see. So please, if you're squeamish and want to remain an omnivore, stop reading!
(but consider watching Jamie Oliver this Wed 23rd July 2008 on Channel 10 at 9:30pm)

For those who wish to understand what happens before most of the world sits down to a meal of chicken keep reading.....

I have had many people squirm at the mention of killing your own food. I think many liken a chicken to their cat or dog - a pet. A chicken has and
always will be a source of food and part of a natural farming system. Most importantly, our chickens have had better lives than most and died humanely at the hands of people who truly appreciate the process.

The list of photos below is not an exercise in horror but an 'education' or '
demonstration of technique':-
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Unsuspecting - we had fed them only a little grass in the morning. In hindsight, it's easier to fast them for 2 days before.






I dug quite a deep hole to bury all feather etc so no animals would ever dig them up. There is also a frame there for us to hang the chickens from to completely drain.






A sharp knife, chopping block and bowl to drain the blood into. (You of course only need the bowl if you wish to use the blood in cooking or feed to your dog etc)






It's easier with 2 people. One person holds the legs and the wings at their base. There are all sorts of techniques I've seen i.e. knocking the chicken out first, plucking feathers from the neck first, twisting & snapping the neck first.... I tried to pluck a few feathers first only to see the chicken in pain. The fastest and therefore most humane is a clean chop!

Nerves will make the chicken convulse for a good minute after death. Just hold on and drain the blood. (The plastic bag is only to protect a cast)









We tied the chicken up to drain while we moved onto the second chook.











In a large bucket of boiling water, dunk the chook for no more than 5-10 seconds (any more and it will start to cook). Plucking is easy! But as my Dad said "the smell is distinctive" not bad, just distinctive....





I only watched, but you want to cut open the cavity without cutting any organs etc. Start from the anus (on the stomach side). Cut away the skin...






Then cut in below the ribcage so you can then scoop out everything (hopefully) in one movement.







...








The chicken very quickly looks like what you might find in a supermarket.







We rescued a few 'golden' eggs. These are pre-laid eggs without a shell. Many consider them as a delicacy.... (I didn't taste one, can anyone describe the taste?)






The small balls on top are eggs in early formation. Looks like our chickens were ramping up production again...







The meat of two chickens.








We'll freeze these bones and use for stock and dog food later.








Dinner! I found the chicken to be very rich - almost like duck.

We used ginger and lemongrass from the garden in this dish.






Post-Chicken. With all the coffee grinds and chicken poo we might get some great corn, zucchini and beans in this patch as we come in to spring.






If you can't eat liver, neck, or chicken feet your dog will!










Sunday, July 6, 2008

Carrots are crunchy...

Not too much happening in the garden:-

I have sampled some of our carrots, although a little small they taste great!




The trick here is to make sure you thin the carrots shortly after they sprout. Too close and you get the two baby carrots in the middle.


After 3 weeks under a light covering of mulch, two of the six potatoes have sprouted. I have covered them with more soil (I did say there wasn't too much happening...)


I have also just finished reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. I highly recommend!

It's a book in three parts;
1) the industry of corn
2) a permaculture farm
3) hunting and gathering

It's an easy and engrossing read. A book that changes the way you think. A book you immediately want all your friends to read because there's no way I can sum it up here...








Monday, June 30, 2008

Inspiration

I came across a great permaculture video that I had forgotten about.

...there's more!

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Omnivore's Dilemma


Rain while camping was the perfect time to dive into "The Omnivore's Dilemma". After reading this I couldn't wait to get stuck back into our mostly oil-free-garden.

The corn is bland and small - possibly a result of colder weather. Either way, still good chook food. (A far cry from the yields described here; "The Omnivore's Dilemma")




The carrots and leeks are coming along nicely with the frequent rain. Time to start thinning I think.





After reading that most Australian garlic is shipped from China fumigated with some toxic chemicals, I thought a mostly oil-free-garden should have plenty on the go. I planted plenty of cloves (pointy side up) near our rose bush. 1 clove yields 1 bulb.

The garlic went in where the Turmeric came out. I re-planted a few smaller pieces again in a sunnier position in front of our pond. (Not bad for 8 months from a couple of fronds)



The cauliflower has been overrun with slugs. So I blended up some garlic, onion and chili in water and sprayed it on - it worked for the rose bush... (I left a some of the blend to concentrate in the storeroom for next time).






Potatoes are my next experiment. I dug 2 troughs and placed a few potatoes in them covered with mulch. The idea is as the leaves keep sprouting you keep adding more soil from the piles either side. 80% of potatoes grow above 'ground'.

(The soil was feeling pretty good after a long spell with the chickens, plenty of scraps and coffee grinds from 'Urban Grind')