Saturday, April 24, 2010

Going in Circles

Here I was this week clearing away the last of the corn stalks and thinking it didn't seem so long ago I was planting them. Now I'm sowing black oats, then it will be potatoes and then another summer crop and on it goes. Life is cyclic and so is nature.

Still reading Monty (Monty and Sarah Don, Fork to Fork) and absorbing the ideal of a self-sustaining or 'non-input' garden. This is where you establish an environment that largely provides for itself, supplying its own compost and nutrients. It is probably easier to do on a larger scale and I would think that having livestock would help, even if it is as small as worms. Strangely enough the penny dropped this week; I am gardening on a larger scale. I was reading an advertisement for forcing pots where they recommended two rhubarb plants, not one, if you were going to force it. I'd say I have 3 dozen and that is barely enough. This is a big garden.

Well sustainable gardening requires that nothing is wasted and that everything is returned to the soil. Ta da! That black in the wheelbarrow is leaf mould from the leaves that Mama raked here 2 years ago. Yip,it takes that long for them to break down. In the sack is sawdust, untreated, from the workshop. In the bucket dried blood, and bone meal. Without asking too many questions, dead animals get sent off to the works and come back in bags...seperated. This is a gift from a farmer down South. We don't work on this scale.

So equal quantities of sawdust and leaf mould, and a good handful of blood and bone (with a partiality to bone meal here) and the result is a strawberry soil mix to dig in and use as a mulch. Finished them off with a pine needle mulch because these are planted 2ft apart and are just new runners. Look in the box and you'll see the nice root formation.

Now what remains is plenty of Autumn watering and they should be cropping next Summer.
The time has been right this week for getting in those cover crops where ever the ground is cleared; ideally double-dug in this garden. It is a slow process here because it hasn't been done. It can only get easier.

The seasons may run a circular route but jobs in the garden are a chain of processes. One job leads to another to another to another to finally the end task that you had in mind from the start. So to throw over the peas as a cover crop first required saving the seed back in February, podding them, preparing the soil (fetching the cow manure and building it into the dig) and then slowly rehydrating it with the soak hose over a few weeks here and there. Sowing seeds: 5 mins. Preparation: always and ongoing. When I come in the door and say, 'I've had a great time in the garden; I sowed some peas' it doesn't really communicate all that. Blank stares all round.

Haven't mastered the really close-up in which you would have seen not just one or two bees, bottoms up in the artichokes but many, all burrowing down into the depths of the flowers. We may not have eaten many but they have been a great crop.
The frosts are taking them out but they have shoots coming away at the base to nurture over winter with straw. In Spring I'll plant them out and begin the year again...

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  1. Hi there, I discovered your blog a little while ago and been enjoying reading along - don't seem to be many nz garden blogs around? i've been playing with the idea of 'self-sustaining' gardening too - have a subtropical orchard which is being planted (slowly) with this theory, and have put some ducks in there which we are enjoying very much, they do eat a lot of things though so it is trial and error. and relate also to your story of planting peas, and all the work that goes into it 'behind the scenes' - so true!

  2. I was struck by the beauty of the colours of the artichokes - the purple flowers, green and yellow leaves. Nature does great colour schemes.
    Well I was thinking this time of year you might have a bit of a break but it would seem not.

  3. I love autumn, all that winding down is so cosy.
    Speaking of sprinkling handfuls of this or that, I sprinkled coffee grounds all over my garden to discourage the cat that leaves a big steaming you-know-what in my garden every night, and hey presto! Pristine garden this morning!

  4. I was thinking how much I would like to spend a week up at yours -maybe next autumn and just spend a week gardening with you. I think it would be nearly as good as going for a tramp. Maybe as good.

    Thanks to Bill for fixing the tap.