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.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

The lemon tree DIE!

The ex-lemon tree is now a standing pumpkin tree!! Matt in his great enthusiasm applied two handfuls of Epsom salt (when it should be 2 teaspoons dissolved in a bucket of water) on the base of the lemon tree. Within a week it withered and died.

Lesson learnt: Enthusiasm can be deadly in the garden!!

Lacto fermentation - Good Health and Save Money

In Mid December (2007) I made 2 quarts of Sauerkraut (into 4 bottling jars) from the cabbages planted in Spring. I prepared it 3 days before I went away on a 3-week holiday. You can imagine my great anticipation coming home from the holiday. It tasted surprising nice and we’ve finished 2 bottles since. Yesterday, my neighbor gave me a big cabbage. Quiz question: What will be the fate of this cabbage? J

My first introduction to sauerkraut was from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon http://www.westonaprice.org/foodfeatures/lacto.html and the benefits of lacto-fermented vegetables.

From all the readings, I am more convinced that lacto-fermented vegs should be part of my regular diet for health benefits. It’s a more nutritious, a time and cost effective way of preserving excess crops in summer for the cold months ahead. I also come across two books on lacto fermentation frequently mentioned in forums, blogs and websites:

1) “Wild Fermentation:The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-culture foods” by Sandor Ellix Katz (http://www.wildfermentation.com/)

2) "Making Sauerkraut and Pickled Vegetables at Home: Creative Recipes for Lactic Fermented Food to Improve Your Health (Natural Health Guide) (Natural Health Guide)" by Klaus Kaufmann

This link http://constantstateofflux.wordpress.com/2007/11/24/pickling-day-the-old-way/ provides some info on how sauerkraut is made. Enjoy

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Growing Carrots - Part 2

I've planted my second lots of carrot, onion and radish in the bed when I harvested the garlics. I also planted 2 packs of dwarf beans along the edge of the guild.

This time round, I've planted the carrot seeds a little closer as well as keeping an eye on the soil moisture level. To prevent evporation under the hot summer day, I've cover the veg bed with a shade cloth. Water over the shade cloth twice a day. I should see some movement by the end of the week. Keep a lookout for the update!!

Update on 5th Feb:
-The radishes were the first to germinate, less than a week. They are about 15cm tall now.
-The carrots germinated within a week, and they are about 5cm tall now.
-Still waiting on the shy onion to germinate - apparently it takes 21 days before it will start showing its face.

Planting Mix
I had a mix of (80%)sand, 3 packets of onion seeds(different varieties) 3 packets of carrot seeds and A packet of mixed radishes in a 200l container with small holes that would allow my to sprinkle the mix onto the veg bed.

The helpers in the garden

The Spring plantings have all finished and I'm doing the second round of planting for the summer season. And the chookies are such good workers that I really can't imagine gardening without them.

The chookies clear, prepare, fertilize and mulch the veg beds so well and quick that within 3 days the veg beds are ready for planting. To achieve that, all I need to do is to move the chook tractor to the target veg bed, and give them the barley straws on the 2nd day and to think up plants to plant at the end of the three day. How difficult is that?

They were under my Royal gala apple trees for 2 weeks, and so far the apples on the tree are looking excellent without any work from me. Maybe they had taken care of the cothling moths.

My only concern: soon I'll be running out for places for the chookies to scratch...
Possible solution: maybe I can load them out to gardeners who want to clear their slug and snail populations!!

Collecting Gold - Part 2

"Why cow dung?" You may ask. Well, apparently cown dung is free of weed and it has nearly all the nutrients/minerals that plants need to grow well. Linda Woodrow suggests that in her book "Permaculture Home garden". She mows down the cow pad and use them as seed raising mix.

So I decided to give it a try. I spreaded the cow pads on my lawn and mowed them down. That fertilized my lawn as well as provided free nutrients packed seed raising mix. Next, I mixed the powered cow pads with equal part of sand and had had good success raising seeds with the mix.

Another I do with the cow dung was to scoop a trough full of it and throw it into the holes that I have dug for planting seedlings. Then I plant the seedlings on to the holes. So far all the plants with the cow dung mix in the soil are doing very well. For example, one of our zucchini plants has 6 zucchinis growing on a single plant, all about the same size. The most productive zucchini plant I had ever seen. It could be the variey but my my...pretty amazing stuff!

oUr hOliDaY

We've been quiet for a long while because we were away on holiday- burnt some fossil fuel to visit my family and friends in Singapore. The holiday was fabulous as we had some great quality time with people we love and missed dearly. Nevertheless we couldn't help but made a few observations.

Firstly, we've changed.
We used to buy lots of nice fashionable cheap clothes whenever we were in Singapore. We also packed our luggage full of local goodies that I still enjoy eating. But this round, we didn't do much shopping as we didn't want anything apart from the odd items that we needed during the trip. We were content with we've got, and didn't see the need to buy any thing because they were cheap. It wasn't even something we thought about. We simply didn't have any desire or whatsoever. Very interesting eh!!

Conversations usually revolved around our newly found mission of eating off our garden. It's such a novalty to all our friends especially their children. Topics of conversation included "Do you need a rooster in order to get eggs?" "How do one hatch a chicken egg?" "What do you grow in your garden?" etc. We had hours of fun talking about the things we do in our garden.

Singapore has changed too
During the last visit a year and a half ago, there weren't many recycling bins. But we see them in most public places this round. And overall, there are a lot more public awareness with regards to recycling and plastic usage. Food scraps are being recycled too. We are very pleased to see that children are being educated in this respect through children programmes on TV. Generally a very positive effort and very heart warming to see. Whenever we turned down the extra plastic bags, we would receive positive feedback such as a smile or a comment about us being kind to the planet.