Monday, November 27, 2006

Permablitz inspiration - Sunday 26 November 2006

It's been a while since the last post, too long in fact. This Sunday it was just me (Marie Antoinette) in the patch but I was all fired up and doing the work of two. I was inspired by having participated in my first permablitz at the house of Nelson and his family in Springvale.

After helping with seed planting, lunching and viewing Nelson's fine veggie garden, I tagged along with seasoned permablitzer Dan on his visit to the house of Vilma whose backyard was the site of the first permablitz about 6 months ago. Mint tea (mint from the garden) was followed by some delicious pupusas, which are a kind of tortilla and are a specialty of El Salvador, where Vilma comes from. Goodness growing in Vilma's small backyard includes broad beans, parsley, rosemary, mint and much else besides. The sheet mulching, and perhaps also the dense planting, seems to have kept most of the weeds down.

- A big kickass salad, made up of spinach, chervil, parsley, coriander, dill and one ickle immature garlic.

- Sweet peas - oh my lordy they are good.

- Two beautiful artichokes, proving that they love being hacked.
- Potatoes - a few very small ones so eager to grow that they've popped up out of the ground (should have mounded them). In fact there are voluntary potatoes popping up all over the second patch. I think that the potato section in that patch will be ready to harvest in a few weeks.

- Some small broccoli heads - from the first patch.

Planted snake bean seedlings in the second patch, including 6 or so in the mulched section.
Mulched two sections of the first patch.
Did a ****load of weeding in the second patch.

I left the very leafy cauliflower in the first patch, but I don't hold much hope that any heads will develop - I reckon the time has passed for that. Little One's rhubarb is still just contemplating its navel. As Little One predicted, the tomatoes in the first patch are not doing nearly as well as those in the second. Perhaps her prognosis of nitrogen-sucking gum trees is correct. No rat attempts on the sweet peas - as yet. Perhaps the inter-planting of mint throughout the second patch, and the sprinkling of wild mint around the peas, has helped.

In a week's time I'm off to do a two-week residential permaculture course in Leongatha. Hopefully this will herald a whole new era for Land for Veggies.

Marie Antoinette

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Spring is in the air - Sunday 27 August 2006

Spring is in the air

Sunday 27 August 2006

Oh my lordy what a beautiful day it was - perfect for spending quality time in the patches. As it gets warmer, growth spurts are happening. The spinach or 'spinachi', as we like to call it, is looking promising. Another few weeks and we'll be making Spanakopita like there's no tomorrow. The peas that Little One and I moved a few weeks ago are clinging determinedly to their wire support (the fence), and the Broccoli is making a last stand.

Today in the patch I cut the Lupins that were about to flower in the first patch and dug them back into the soil to give it a good nitrogen fix. I checked under the ground for taters in the second patch, the ones that I covered completely with compost, and lo and behold if there aren't lots of littlies growing all over the joint. I did some weeding in the second patch and looked longingly at all the lettuces, which are still a way off from maturity. I also gave the first patch a good dose of Seasol (seaweed fertiliser).

At home on the balcony, the dill and coriander seedlings are going strong. They are destined for our new regime of companion planting. The balcony is also holding a few successful rosemary cuttings. No action on the mint front, which is disappointing as it's been my experience that any fool can grow mint.

On Monday night (28th) I went to a Peak Oil seminar in Melbourne - questions from the audience to the speakers were mostly about transport but encouragingly a couple of people in the audience stood up and asked about growing veggies in urban areas. More land for veggies, I say.

Marie Antoinette

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Veggieman makes an entrance - Sunday 18 June

Veggieman makes an entrance - Sunday 18 June

Hi, I'm Vegieman, the newest 'Land for veggies' team member. Here is my story of what happened in the patches on Sunday 18 June.

Little One planted some great potatoes at the farm and even planted some lupins to make the soil better. I helped plant some beautiful new cute little peas. They looked great. Little One was surprised the peas were so well made. Then I helped with the foundations of the construction for the new plot and brought over some great big bricks for the foundation of the outer layer. Little One helped with the confusing design of the foundation. It was pretty hard constructing it but we were determined to build this hard construction. We also had to solve the mystery of the rat holes.

Then, about an hour later, we were done, and you know what? We were proud of ourselves! And then . . . Yes! Yes! Hooray . . I finally found the entry and the exit to the rat incident that occurred. Although it was strange that the entrance we thought was the actual entrance, was the exit. Good Work! Veggieman. You've done it!

Then, some time later, we looked at the potatoes to see if they were ready to harvest. Sadly our potatoes weren't ready to harvest, but luckily they should be ready to harvest next week.

Veggieman, signing off now.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Slash and compost - Sunday 21 May

Slash and compost

Sunday 21 May 2006

Having been absent for sometime I returned to the farm for a big day in the veggie patch. The 3 degree mornings pretty much tell us that the last of the tomatoes won't be ripening and it is time we ripped them out to get the patch ready for summer (after much promoting from Marie Antoinette.) Notable absentees this weekend are The Good Doctor and Suzie Compost. We toyed with the idea of stealing one of the Good Doctor's prize celeriacs but knew they would notice upon their return from sunnier climes, so we let them be (this time).

So instead of enjoying a delicious feast and a glass of red, it was a quick bowl of soup and the donning of a collection of very daggy jumpers (function over form this time) before we embarked upon a most enjoyable slash and compost. It was very cold but after a while we were all warmed up.

An interesting development

Some months back we posted 'Dwats we have wats'. At the time we knew something was eating our beans and tomatoes ... Well clearing away 'le foret des tomates' revealed how the 'mystery critters' made their way into paradise. They dug tunnels! Photos of the crime scene are submitted as evidence. Of course Marie Antoinette took the opportunity to again remind me that had we cut the tomatoes back more we would have seen the little ratty pathway. We are not one hundred per cent not sure what the critter is. It may be some other kinda rodent... there was mention of 'bush rats'or native rats. This presents issues for us and our desire to share our produce with the other inhabitants of the farm.

So we cleared the tomatoes, basil and capsicums, turned the soil and planted lupins to put nitrigeon back into the soil.

In the other patch things are progressing well. The broad beans are two feet high but still no beans. We were worried but we read that they take much longer in winter so we have to be patient. The big excitement was the broccoli. We decided to harvest out first head. I got to take it home and ate it that night! My God how beautiful, crisp and sweet; not rubbery like the old thing in the bottom of my fridge. If the cauliflower tastes that good fresh I could be tempted to reasses my 35 year old aversion. While I finshed off 'lupining' the tomato patch, Marie planted out the cauliflower. The patch is hanging in there - we have had very little rain and the Good Doctor is not down there giving it a drink of water. The potatoes are going great guns so hopefully we will have enough for a kipfler feast.

We finished up after dark with Marie assisting me in lower patch with a torch. Everything looked grand after what was a great day in the patch.

As lovely and invigorating as the day was I personally can't wait til the whole gang is reunited! Until then ' more land for veggies!'

Little One

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Go Mouli Go - Saturday 13 May

Go Mouli Go

Saturday 13 May 2006

Today was classic Autumn weather for this corner of the globe: rainy, then sunny then hail, then sunny. As a result, activity in the patches was sporadic and hurried. Little One used up the rest of last week's tomato bounty to make a fabuloso tomato-sauce base. Her expert Mouli action is pictured. Recipe is too simple, and comes courtesy of Jeff Jansz, the original TV 'chunk' (chef-hunk): seed your tomatoes (keep seeds of course), fry up garlic in some olive oil, add the seeded tomatoes with some sympatico herbs (i.e. parsley, oregano) and cook on low for 25 minutes. Final step is ze Mouli. To get the most out of the tomatoes you can also sieve the seeds to get extra juice, which you add to the mixture before cooking. This sauce base can be frozen. It is a great base (instead of canned tomatoes) for pasta sauces, including the classic bolognese.

Progress report
Not much to report here other than the amazing up and go of the lupins, planted in various plots to fix nitrogen in the soil: the seeds planted direct a few weeks ago have germinated and are growing like the clappers. Broad beans are flowering but not producing many beans yet. Broccoli has produced its first little head - such a delicate flower. Broccoli planted later is coming along, but slowly. Potatoes look very healthy. Basil has finished, in what seemed to be a very sudden finale - here one day gone the next. Mini capsicums still ripening on a few of the bushes. Rhubarb planted a few weeks ago is doing well.

Cauliflower seedlings planted a couple of weeks ago have germinated on my balcony in the city.

Enough lettuce for a salad and about 1 kilo tomatoes.

We planted
Chicory seedlings, wormwood seedlings, and onions. We plan to plant a stand of wormwood and use it to deter rats and possums - apparently torn wormwood leaves scattered around the base of plants helps repel them. Might also try to grow lots and lots of mint for this purpose but I guess the problem with that is containing it.

Next week we plan to build a mini plot for a potential new Land for Veggies team member, who is a young 'un. He may make a contribution here. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A wet weekend - Sunday 7 May 2006

A wet weekend - Sunday 7 May 2006

But so beautiful. The rain brings out the lovely damp growing smells of the patch. It's also mushroom season - wish I knew what was what in that department.

Things have definitely slowed down with the cooler weather. The broad beans stand proud and tall but haven't produced more than 10 or so beans. Broccoli is coming along slowly, growing like it's got it's mind on other things.

This weekend I planted chicory and spinach seedlings, using Little One's ingenious hothouses, being old plastic card indexes with clear lids. They sit on my balcony in the city - at night the I close lids over to protect them from frost.

Harvested around 3.5 kilos of tommy toe tomatoes. The tomato patch is looking dilapidated but still fecund.

The Thomas Street garden
This week I was inspired, and disheartened at the same time, by the story of the Thomas Street garden. The Thomas Street Permaculture Garden is an intensive edible garden developed on a rented quarter acre suburban block in Clayton (Melbourne Australia). It includes plants, trees, compost production, greenhouses, ponds, a worm farm and poultry. The Thomas Street gardeners recently received a notice from their landlord requiring them to either restore the garden back to its former state (lawn) or pay $2100.

What a travesty! Turning a lawn into a food garden should be rebatable exercise not an economic liability for gardeners. The Thomas Street crew held a fundraiser on Saturday 6 May. Check out the photos of the garden - it's truly inspiring - and the words of support from David Holmgren, one of the founders of the permaculture movement.

Marie Antoinette

Monday, February 27, 2006

Composting news - Sunday 26 February 2006

Composting news - Sunday 26 February 2006

The Compost Queen was unable to check on the heaps this weekend but they (the heaps) would have loved Saturday's downpour. Go microbes. The Good Doctor would be held in even higher esteem if he could possibly collect some more lucerne or pea hay next weekend.

One of the heaps stewing away at present can be used on the vegetable garden but I would love the other heap to be used for the remaining celeriacs (another 40).

This photo shows an experiment in adding roughage to the compost in the form of crushed mussel shells.

Suzie Compost

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Dwats wats - Sunday 19th February 2006

Dwats Wats
Its official we have rats eating our freakin'beans and our beautiful tomatoes so we are going to have to get going on the organic remedies. We haven't tried the sprinkling with white pepper yet but... well... it is time to bring out the big guns. Even though we are loosing some tomatoes to the vermin there is still plenty to go round. We harvested a bumper crop of 4kg but more of that later. This week Marie Antoinette dug up last season lettuces and we planted the new seedlings which are about three weeks old. She also sprinkled sulfate of potash around the runner beans and broad beans.

What a week for the Tomatoes 4kg of the sweetest juiciest "Tommy Toes". Not suprisingly having hacked 1kg from the Basil last w

We Planted
No seeds this week. Marie planted out the new lettuces.

Progress report
The 'Broadies' seem to double their size every week and now wave in the breeze at about 20 cm. We harvested another little cucumber today about 10cm long, the plants look healthy enough but not as prolific as we would have thought. Once again the zucchini's have been kinda disappointing. Our hearts are still warmed by the peas which are doing beautifully . The broccoli are doing well in their little seedling hothouse so ideas for the autumn winter crop are coming together.

Monday, February 13, 2006

You say tomato . . .Saturday 11 February 2006

You say tomato. . .

Saturday 11 February 2006

You have to break an egg to make an omelet but does it also follow that you have to massacre (some may say prune) the tomatoes to grow the tomatoes? This was the question I pondered as Marie Antoinette let loose her Nietzschian 'what doesn't kill 'em makes 'em tastier' approach to our ridiculously overcrowded tomato patch. Yes we did plant 24 plants in a space designed for ten but who would have thought that each plant would grow to six foot tall, not bloody me that is for sure! Admittedly I had had several opportunities to 'tame the wild beast' but after a morning 'dans le foret des tomatates' I couldn't bring myself to impose structural change. So as I watched anxiously as Marie unleashed some kind of snipping and ripping fury, all for the greater good of course, until finally I demanded 'Enough!', she insisted 'a little more', I relented and then insisted 'Enough!' to which she responded 'in a minute' and then finally I accompanied her from the patch. Of course there is more light now, of course we can now pick the fruit at the centre of the forest and while I am sure the tomatoes will heal, even flourish, I don't know whether I will recover from the episode.

The Bounty
In the midst of the fury we picked 2.5 kg of tomatoes (plus last weeks 1.5 make 4kg huzzah!) 1 kg of basil, 50 grams of zucchini, 150g of capsicum and 15g of sweet sweet cucumber. The most amazing thing was that we harvested 200g of the juiciest most perfect peas. My goodness, any distress that I may have felt from the great tomato prune was eclipsed by the pleasure of fresh garden peas. The little pea plants are laden with pods and adorned with delicate soon to be pea flowers.

We Planted
2 small pea seedlings and 17 spinach seedlings. I also started some broccoli and Rocket seeds, as we start to consider autumn and winter crops. Where the first crop of broad beans grew now 9 potatoes contemplate their future.

Progress Report
The new patch of broad beans are standing proud, the new crop of scarlet runners are finding their way up their climbing frame, some with more purpose than others. The zucchinis look great but don't seem to be as proflic as last year. It doesn't look like I killed the pumpkins plant there may be hope yet and there is one mini cucumber a bit small to pick, so that will wait til next week.

The Bean Question
We think that rats or little possums have been eating our first stand of scarlet runner beans, we sprinkled mint as a deterent and as a couple of beans survived this week we are feeling a bit more confident. Tomorrow we shall cover the plants in white pepper and see what happens.

All in all not a bad day in the patch.

Little One

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Land for veggies - Sunday 5th February 2006

LAND FOR VEGGIES - Sunday 5th February 2006

Welcome to Land for Veggies, diary of a veggie patch and the goings on around it.

In this first post we introduce the players in the patch and tell you a little about the patch itself.


Little One
Podcast obsessive, lover of all singer-songwriters and the occasional Fleetwood Mac classic, bon-vivant.

Susie Compost
There's nothing this lady doesn't know about mulch and compost. You could grow babies in her stuff.

Marie Antoinette
When Marie first mooted the idea of the patch, The Good Doctor pooh-poohed the idea. Marie Antonette in her mock shepherd's gear, playing country.

The Good Doctor
Otherwise known as Farmer Joe. Lover of all things Nigella and the victim of a compulsive celeriac addiction.

The patch is in a coastal area of south eastern Australia. The soil is rich loam over clay. The climate is cool with regular sea breezes.

The patch itself is actually two separate patches. Both receive good sun. The first patch has been on the property for at least 10 years, but before it was taken over by the land for veggies team it grew mainly artichokes, which were delicious. The second patch is more recent (2005) and was built over an old bonfire site. It has proved very productive.

Little One, Suzie Compost, Marie Antoinette, and The Good Doctor