Thursday, 30 May 2013

Getting ready for winter

I've found myself with a bit of spare time before work picks up again, so I've happily sending this bonus time in the garden. Despite the work I'm putting into my garden, it still looks rather haphazard and unwieldy though! Maybe that's why I love the idea of food forest so much; a space running amok with edibles and beneficials. I really have no idea what I'm doing though, and nature will takes its course regardless. For example, my strawberries. I love how I don't need to do anything with then, and they are still fruiting and sprouting runners! My dream of a strawberry field is slowly becoming a reality.

I'm experimenting with green manure this winter. My garden is pretty compacted, I've dug patches  that didn't get very far, and got blisters for my work instead! The amazing Suelyn, whose garden we visited on our pernaculture garden tour, suggested growing green manure will help to cultivate difficult soils. I sown some mystery green manure mix in a couple of garden beds and some buckwheat in another. I shall report in spring to let you know how it went.

My shungiku seedlings are finally growing up. I haven't eaten much of them, except a nibble or two while I garden. I want to toss them in some good stock, served simply with a bowl of rice. That would make a very satisfying meal. I can't really decide which to keep for seeds though. Both look so pretty and happy, I don't want to eat them!

I can't say the same for my other seedlings though. My kale and bok choi has been annihilated by something. It's either the cats, or the birds. I'm pretty sure it's not slugs (I can't see their telltale trails) and it's getting too cold for caterpillars. Instead of healthy plants, I have sad little stems poking up. All I can do is encourage them! Fight, my little seedlings, fight! Whatever it is, I hope they've had a good meal.

Recently, my mind was blown by the discovery of the compost turner (aka compost mate). I now have a steaming pile of compost, and the worms love with their warm home. There's enough worms to harvest worm to restart the worm farm! Just like that, the turner has paid for itself. My other mind blowing discovery is covering the worm farm with damp newspaper. It's like a blanket for them and keeps the light out. It's made a world of difference.

The lettuce seedlings are growing happily. It's common sense, but it never ceases to amaze me how plants thrive when you plant them at the right time. In another few months, there should be a good harvest.

As for fruit, let me introduce you to my single teeny tiny persimmon. I'm hoping some pruning will help next year. Fruit trees and I have never been the best of friends. They always seem to die on me :( Aren't they suppose to be Zone 2 plants?

My other plantings included some kale, crimson flower broadbeans, nasturtium, cornflowers, calendula (that's been trampled on by cats!), onions, globe artichokes and garlic. There's a few ideas about adding more garden beds, and grow grapes from cuttings for some summer shade.

I hope plant something every week, no matter how big or small, or whether it's edible or not. I'm sure every little bit of work will help to diversity this little patch, inching ever so slowly towards self sufficiency.

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