Big Week

A very busy week coming up! With deliveries coming out of our ears, we were starting to worry that we would not have enough stock to fill all of our orders, but after a quick walk around the market garden, things are looking ok in terms of meeting supply for this week. That being said, if have many more weeks like this one, we will start to really struggle as winter has well and truely hit us here in our patch of paradise.

I woke up this morning and outside the thermometer was reading -2deg Celsius! Now that is cold! That being said, our market garden still manages to pump out the produce, but things have definitely started to slow down. My 3rd batch of corn, although ripening, is on its last legs. My 4th batch, well that will be a treat for the cows… All the tomatoes have been pulled up and so have our different beans. Peas are slowly going in as are the broad beans to make use of the trellis I put up and help nitrogen fix the soil. Still another 3-400 garlic bulbs to go in to reach my aim of 1000+ (may go for 2000 as we have enough plus some to spare). More carrots, lettuce, bok choy and brassicas as well as beetroot and turnips have gone in and this coming week I will hopefully get more alliums in like onions, onions, onions, chives, leeks and spring onions transplanted and get the next batch of various seeds started in punnets. My makeshift greenhouse is still doing ok, but I really need to get started on the large seedling and aquaponics greenhouse to help keep temperatures stable at night, particularly with the temps getting so low so soon.

I also managed to get another batch of hot compost started last weekend, hopefully it will be ready in 4-5 weeks. The pile was steaming all weekend and this coming weekend I will give it a turn and get things cranking again. The animals that have all contributed to the pile have also been looked after, the cows cell grazing paddocks set again for the week, sheep and alpacas moved and chickens in the Taj and newly completed Raw Bale chook shed pampered as always (except for the last remaining 3 roosters who will be processed this weekend – well they at least have all the food they want, all the grass they can eat, fresh water, safe housing and shelter from the elements, so I guess the are temporarily pampered too).

Work work, also pretty busy, aquaponics being quoted, more planting and tree orders, more regenerative projects, 10 (out of 20) raised garden beds on their way ready for a school mini farm, retaining walls and indigenous nature walk planned and quoted, marking, lessons to be planned, student teacher to mentor and debrief daily, department to run and streamline (now that is a big job!) whole school curriculum to be audited and altered and behaviour modification in the way of sustainable practice and education to be slowly implemented.

Ahhh, another day of living the dream.

Did I mention that this weekend we have a 7 year old party to organise….

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A problem with vampires.

The vampires around here are starting to become an issue. So much so, I decided to plant a little under 700 garlic bulbs today to help tackle the problem. Still another 700 or so to go, but that will be a job for next weekend 🙂

This is the first of 2 garlic bed ready to be planted out. 3 rows of garlic will go in here, about 700 in total for this row.

Below is a bit of a photo update of some of our brassicas:

Some of our broccoli are starting to head, They are looking extremely healthy, with large deep and dust green leaves. This one is of a "Green Sprouting Calabrese".

This is one of our brassica beds with a healthy bunch of different heritage broccoli.

This years first batch of cabbage is looking good, despite the cabbage moth wreaking havoc early on. They are now forming tight heads and will be ready for harvest in a couple of weeks.

Haybale Chicken Shed

The boys love the new chook shed!

The nights here have been getting down to single digits and we have been getting frost most mornings over the past couple of weeks. The vegies have really been hit hard by the frost and we are down to the last week of summer veg. I am hoping that the corn will ripen up ok as the day time temps are still relatively warm.

But with the cold nights, our poor silkie chickens are struggling. Last year they did ok, but this year the cold nights have come early and it is time for a chicken house upgrade. I was inspired by reading a post from Milkwood Farm called “RawBale Chicken House Design”. Ours is nowhere near as elaborate as theirs, however, the silkie chooks should be a lot warmer and out of the draft in their new home. It is made out of old pallets and basic pasture hay bales with a tin roof. There are a couple of windows also to allow for a bit of light and the egg box is a work in progress (aka, haven’t really planned that out yet, but shouldn’t be too difficult). Work work starts back up for me tomorrow, so hopefully will finish it over the next couple of evenings.

More of a cubby house for the boys!

Ahhhh Autumn!

Autumn, without a doubt my favourite season of the year! You can really feel the change in seasons here on our farm. Bitter cold gusts of wind coming from the south, sudden downpours of rain, bright streaming warm sunshine and dark gloomy clouds. Autumn truly is the season of everything.

With the end of the growing and harvest, the clean up and prep  and planting for the winter crops begin in earnest. Brassicas have gone in, with three varieties of broccoli, two varieties of cauliflower, cabbages and the most excitingly of all, brussel sprouts! Homegrown brussel sprouts really can’t be beaten for flavour and sweetness. Picked about 2/3 the size you would normally get from the grocery store, they retain their sweet flavour with a slight, rather than over powering  bitter twang, better yet, picked after a light frost, they are amazing!

It’s  quite invigorating starting up Lemon and using her to rototil the soil, turning in all that alpaca , chicken and cow poo, as well as lovely biodynamic compost! The old potato beds will be planted up with both broad beans and garlic. Hopefully anywhere up to 1000 garlic bulbs will push their way through ready to harvest in November-ish. Our main variety is Italian Red Rocamble with a purple/red tinge to the outer skin and a rich and complex yet not over powering flavour.

This winter we double our market garden growing space, making ready for lots and lot of potatoes! They have been our biggest sellers to date, but tomatoes are making a last minute dash for finish line which is fast approaching. We are currently growing on about 700-800 square meters of gently slopping land, so next year we will be growing on 1400-1600 square meters, a bit over 1/3 of an acre. 1 acre is the magic number. They say that a 1 acre market garden can be managed by one person full time and turn a small profit. Ultimately I think we will get to just under an acre, around 2/3 for 2 reasons, 1) we are hamstrung by limited flat/gently slopping land, 2) I’m not sure we will be able to sanely manage 1 full acre, go to work full time and not impinge on family time.

Also this winter, I will attempt to put up a greenhouse and a strawbale shed/cool room/ office. The aim is for the greenhouse to house my aquaponics system MKIII and the shed to act as a store room and being heavily insulated, also a cool room, with a small section for a basic office. All our seeding, cleaning, packing and storage will hopefully happen here as well as storage for gardening tools and the like.

So lots to do in the coming months with photo updates to come.

On a side note – yesterday, I was weeding and prepping beds while Hayley was pulling up egg plants (a fizzer in our climate – too cold…) Ava-Li was crawling around picking capsicums and the boys were riding their bikes through puddles! Life truly is good!