We believe that the urban garden is one of the solutions in the face of rising cost of living. By applying permaculture principles in the design and lifestyle, we seek to maximize onsite resources to meet most of our needs with minimal impact on the land.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

The Mandala garden in late August

Since I’ve read Linda Woodrow’s book “The Permaculture Home Garden” I can’t stop thinking about the Mandala’s garden working in conjunction with a chook dome. After measuring up the garden and deciding on the no of beds we want, Matt modified the design given in the book and build a pretty sturdy chook do me. We have since removed our square beds displayed in the earlier blog and replaced with round beds, with the help of our chookies. The Mandala garden is still in its infancy stage and I’m learning to garden with round beds instead of boxes. It takes a bit of getting used to.

Globe Artichoke

We planted the Globe Artichoke 6 months before our wedding. It has since died back and grown back over the last few years, each time with more dramatic display and growth. The first year, we admired the dramatic foliage, let the globes flowered and seeded, pruned it and added to our compost heap. The second year, we gave most of it to a friend who happened to enjoy them. This year, we’ve decided that it may possibly be edible and decided to give it a try. And it turned out to be quite tasty if we harvest it before it gets too big. I harvest it when it’s slight bigger than the size of my clenched fist. Next, I slice off one third of the top and chop off the stalk. Then, I put it into a pot of boiling water with a teaspoon of salt and boil the life out of it for about 20 minutes. After that, remove it from the pot of hot boiling water, either eat it as it is, or pull it apart and add it to a delicious salad. You’ll be pleasantly surprised! You can also check out this link to see how to appreciate artichokes.

George the Second

For about 2 years, George the 1st lived in the crack at the top right corner of the kitchen window. We watch George the 1st feasted on bugs and flies and grew bigger through the two years. It was a comfort to see that George the 1st kept the summer flies under control. One day, we found George the 1st lying dead on the kitchen bench. We called our good friends and told them the sad news but they laughed so hard!!! One night, we heard a knock on the door, it was our friends. They had turned up with a replacement for George the 1st, which we named George the 2nd. George the 2nd has since taken over the task of George the 1st and is doing a great job in keeping the flies population down, and is flourishing with the feed. The White flowers from the clusters of buds are quite breathtaking.

George the 1st was a spider and George the 2nd is a fly trap plant!

Friday, 12 October 2007

Friend's advice for a winter veggie garden

Judith is the friend who has an amazing winter veggie garden. When I ask her about planting for winter, this is her advice:

Start thinking about winter now, yes. I know we have just finished but winter veggies take a long time to grow. I have just started the rotation system of O R B. This is the order that plants follow each other. Where the Brassicas (Broccoli, Caulis, and Cabbage) have grown, you plant others (lettuce, onions/leeks, silverbeet, beans/peas). Where the others have been you plant Roots (carrots, parsnips, potatoes) and around you go.

Sometimes you have to "fiddle the books" but I am sure you get the general idea. And I am only just sorting this one out, but you need to get the seed in so that the plants are big enough to into their permanent position in January/Feb/March.

Broad beans - almost ready now get planted in April/May.

Lettuce is short (2-3mths from seed)crop.

Brassicas - October is the last month for planting seed unless you want to battle with the white butterfly over late December - May. Sow seed of these in Jan/Feb to eat June/July.

I could go on. I am still observing and experimenting and should keep a diary. Need to plant corn seeds in pots this weekend to plant out in 2-3 weeks. I do the next sowing when I have transplanted these so get 2 - 3 sowings a season. You need at least twenty plants for a good harvest so room becomes a factor.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

2007 October Urban Permies meeting

We had a rather international gathering represented by 4 nationalities, French, Singaporean, Kiwis and American. It's spring so we decided to do gardening for free - plant propagation through softwood cutting, with a focus on some herbal plants. After that, we retreated back into the house to enjoy a nice cup of Lemon Balm tea and followed by more discussions on plant propagation. Somehow the discussion led to the health benefits of raw milk and other things we can do with raw milk. Check out these websites if you're keen.

Lemon Balm tea

Put a handful of lemon balm leaves into a teapot
Put hot water into the teapot
Wait a few minutes
Serve it on individual cups with half a teaspoon of honey on each cup

It's a very relaxing tea with the most amazing aroma. No wonder bees go crazy over lemon balm.

Since the meeting, I've done more reading on softwood propagation. The key thing is to keep the cuttings moist and using a propagation mix that contains 60-70% coarse sand with a good potting mix for a greater success rate. I'm experimenting softwood cuttings with capegoose berry and a native plant at the moment.

The plan for the next meeting is to visit a small farmlet that produces raw goats milk. Still on the pipeline. More information coming...