Friday, November 28, 2014

tiger stripes

Yeah I know I'm really selling it with the photo. 
It's top corner of the section.  Former neighbours, many years ago, planted large trees hugging up to the hedge line. 
A potentially sad story of overbearing shade, voracious root systems, hedge munted by vigourous growth and consequently an area no longer suitable for growing.
Fortunately life is a whole lot bigger than that (and so is the section) and unfortunately there are real sad stories out there that you wouldn't wish on anyone.
Wherever they are now, I really hope they are enjoying the pleasures of gardening and continuing to bless their world with more trees. 

So having identified the perfect place to build a worm farm I moved up the bath, with a little help from the  school child home 'sick' for the day: that mysterious tummy bug that seems to come right about 9.30am, after a phone call to school has cleared the day. 
I have some rigid plastic grid over the plug hole to keep out rodents; also put a few bricks in the bottom, I think for drainage? I'm following careful instructions from my worm source. 
Toilet rolls and cardboard are the base layer. 

Notice the enamel pot underneath to catch worm fertiliser and the bath is on a gentle slope to make sure it drains easily. 
The final ingredients are dirt, compost, and the first buffet bucket of vegetable scraps, (citrus and onion excluded) to welcome them to their new home.  
The compost was full of 'other' worms, the garden variety. I was a wee bit concerned about dropping  my immigrants amongst them; I hope things don't turn to fisticuffs in  there. 

The top layer is wet sacks,  then a clever waterproof lid, covered with overlapping plastic tiles that function like scales. The weights stop  any wind drift. See photo below.
 It seems to be a very manageable level of livestock care, although, I've seen a few dead worm farms and they are a sad sight...but enough of that sort of talk, 

Bon vivant!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

made to measure

November, the month of new toys. 
I 'ordered' the shade house to fit the little spot outside the tunnel house and fit it does. 
It reduces the tunnel-house-transition-to-garden to literally one step, out the door.  
The wood is recycled pallet hardwood, Pacific Teak, delivered to site by our neighbour who brings us a steady supply of pallets through the year. 
I can't imagine what a better neighbour would look like. Except his wife of course. She looks better. 

 Chortles when I mention my new water butt that graces the little supply station here. 
I'm looking up 'butt' in the dictionary to justify the word. Oh yes o.k., slang for buttocks, but here is my working definition 'a cask especially as a measure of wine or ale'. 
I consider it fits. I'm facing disbelief that it's a proper word. 
The hoses are at the other end of the garden and it is for all those moments when I need a bit of water at this end. There is liquid manure in the white bucket so I can distribute a little tonic more easily now, which makes it more likely to happen. 
Who doesn't do better for a little tonic now and then. 

Hard to see what I took this photo for. Except of course, I know and I can see clearly.  
I picked up some 'kale' plants from vege club, grown from saved seed; saved, cross-fertilised seed it would seem, sending out broccolli-esque shoots and odd, large leaves. 
The shoots are delicious, the leaves aren't bad, I'm just snapping them off and steaming them, all good to me but they're not going to have any longevity which is more what I was after with Kale. Something to quietly grow and hold-in there through the seasons. 
Now you can juice the ribs, nothing needs to be wasted; it's up there  with jerusalem artichoke juice: virtuous. May not get any repeat takers on it. Alright, won't get any repeat takers then. 

The brag shot,  Italian zuchinni, only brag because it is mid-November in Dunedin, and a cold wet one at that. I never buy zuchinni, so this is a treat; not quite as good as your first strawberries or new potatoes of the season but still something to fully appreciate. 

I just threw the  wood box in on the theme of
humble pallet construction. Super recycling here, when it breaks we burn it for firewood. 
The ashes are the only part that's thrown away. Very neat.        

Thursday, November 13, 2014

small beginnings middles and ends

Amongst the strawberry bed a beautiful pink flowering plant. No idea what the strawberries will be like; the mother plant was a non-descript looking gift but one with great promise: I knew that because the giver is a wonderful gardener. It perked up once it was in the ground and flowered in late Autumn, too late in this climate for fruit. It excelled itself in sending out runners, another big tick; these are all heading for their first season. I can hardly wait. 

 I was very pleased to find carrots amongst all the weeds. Some of my seed was old, big mistake, especially for the first planting, possibly an over-optimistic joust at carrots for Christmas. I put microclima cloth over them as much as a mulch to hold in moisture, as a deterrent for the cats that seem to love to scratch or sleep on a newly-sown bed. It seemed to work on both counts and would have raised the temperature a little too. 
It doesn't let all the rain through so is removed for the minute. Carrot fly is not a problem here or I would  leave it on. I am using the compost wooden things, umm, the squares that build the bin, to mark out the ground. I'm not sure why it makes any difference but I like separating things off. The horseradish over the back isn't deterred by an arbitrary wooden frame (yes that's the word) but a dividing line seems to suggest I am keeping  it at bay. 

Two pictures in the evening light. Garlic, rhubarb, potatoes, the photo is showing off my little concrete retaining 'wall'. It is enough to stop the dirt slipping over the terrace, maybe it provides a little extra warmth through mass absorbing solar energy.
Last of the potatoes, Pink Fir, and Agria are in under the grass clippings. Too much wire worm to leave them late here, we'll just eat new potatoes all the way. Have used pine needles and they help, but I have run out and need to stock up again from a favourite gathering site. A lot of gardening is about gathering and distributing the right resources at the right time. 

I bought this beautiful mug for son's birthday and realised I was actually buying it for myself. Left it out on the bench as a tester to see if there was the slightest interest. No. It's too small and he doesn't appreciate how comfortable the 'scissors handle' is . I'm sure there's a proper name in the ceramics world for that too. 
The obvious solution then is for mother to also receive a gift on son's birthday. 
I'll use it for coffee tomorrow morning.  

'Small beginnings middles and ends'  is all about looking at the individual components of a garden rather than a big sweep. It's what I had in mind before I loaded any photos. The big sweep is something I want to think about more in general garden terms but at this time of year,  life has to be in manageable myopic chunks.