Update

It has been a little while since my last blog entry. Things have been pretty busy, both here on the farm but also at work. This time of year we are busy marking, writing reports, more marking and more reports… It is part of the job, and I must say the least enjoyable. That being said, it is a small price to pay really when you love your job:-)

So firstly an update on the farm:

The orchard is coming along very well this season. I count over 20 apples that, if the rabbits or birds don’t get them, will develop well and should be ripe for the picking from January onwards. Considering they were almost all ring barked last summer by rabbits and they have only been in for 18mths, I don’t think I have done too badly with keeping them going. Our hope is that they will continue to grow this season without any pruning, and then next season, each of the trees should have a handful of fruit, with a good crop in season 2014/2015.

The market garden is starting to really thrive. In our local climate, we are about 2-3 weeks behind Melbourne’s growing season, however in our makeshift little greenhouse, we managed to get things started and planted nice and early. Our mini-swales on contour are working well and the compost I made and spread made a huge difference to growth rates. We did get a late frost which burnt some of the zucchini leaves. They have made a comeback, however, I am sure they would be much more advanced if not for the frost. All good though as zucchini goes crazy when producing! All our other veggies are coming along well, with new additions to our stock this year, violet cauliflower and chilli, as well as a mixed variety of colourful carrots.

New mains irrigation lines have gone in in preparation for next seasons extension and over half of the market garden is now irrigated, with the rest to be completed as funds come in. The no-dig style potatoes are going well, of all of the seed potatoes, I would estimate that 70% of last season potatoes have sprouted and about 90% of new season seed potatoes taking. There are still more to go in and as work finishes up, I should get more time and energy to finish planting. I have not irrigated them at all however they are well wet enough and I will continue monitoring as the summer approaches.

Our first batch of chicks were hatched two weeks ago and they are all going well. We aim to add another 20 girls to the laying flock and process any excess we have. With our consumption rate, we will need 30 chickens in the freezer for the year. This will add to the 2 lambs and cows we will process through the year. Plenty of protein for a growing family, plus some:-)

So the question is, will we be ready for a farmers market stall in January/February??? The way things are growing… probably not, but will give it a good crack:-)

At work work, things are also pushing along. I have just got formal approval for teaching Permaculture at the school to year 9 and 10’s in 2013 and 2014. We will have a trial year in 2013, but I am sure that in 2014 and beyond, we will be teaching a full Permaculture Design Certificate! Also, work on the swale design orchard has started. With a fall of 1/10, no irrigation and horrible, horrible clay to work with, it will be interesting how well the design works. Last night and this morning we had a decent dump of rain, about 25-30mm of rain in 12 hours. The bottom 3 “speed humps” have been rough cut in and it was amazing to see how in a very raw state, the speed humps slowed the water down and collected so much silt. As the remaining swale/ponds are shaped, this should reduce significantly the erosion that occurs on the site as well as allow for a huge collection of water to infiltrate into the berm.

Things are moving along, plenty of work to do both on farm and at work and as we come to the end of the year, rather than slowing down, it is time to speed up!

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Heading in the right direction!

Below is a bit of a photo update of where we are at. With me having time off from work, it has given me plenty of time to… well… work! I have my man bag of gardening goodies packed to take to “work” with all the most used hand tools in there. Hayley called me a “metro-farmer”, very cheeky indeed! It is very cute actually as I am taking to the habit of saying bye to the family when I go to work and then say “see you all at morning tea”. Tano-Li decided he wanted to go to work with me today, so my little apprentice helped wire up the tomatoes 🙂 Anyway enjoy the photos.

This is an old 'Crumpler' work bag I had that we no longer use. I have now turned it back into my "work bag".

My little padawan learner helping plant beetroot seeds.

We have 9 zucchini plants in and 8 button squash seedlings powering away to the right (not in picture sorry). Hayley seems to think this is enough for us and small sales.... I'm thinking we need double this.... time will tell.

Although they are looking really sorry for themselves, the potatoes I put in months ago have been giving us a steady supply of beautiful potatoes for some time now! It is a bit weedy and the leaves are all dying back but the potatoes taste magnificent!

These guys are literally everywhere! They are on the sunflowers, corn, the strawberries, lettuce, pak choy, zucchini, tomatoes, capsicums etc.... Absolutely sensational to see!

These corn plants were not to most successful I have ever grown, somewhat embarrassing actually. They are “Golden Bantams” and were the second batch I tried. These seeds germinated fine, but have grown slowly, my first batch of “Balanese” corn had a rate of 4 out of 100 seeds germinating… I have direct sown another area which will not cross pollinate and they are already showing themselves after 4 days! Much better!

We have a whole bunch of baling twine laying around and I have wondered what to do with them, so I used them to make a growing vine for the beans as they come up. A little late, but should still get a good harvest by autumn.

This is the whole row of the baling twine growing vines.

Here you can see Hayley's chamomile plants that help attract the bees and also the dried flowers make great chamomile tea. You can also see the tomato trellising inspired by Milkwood OMG. Not as ellaborate as Milkwood, but it will definitely do the job.

So much still to do, as you can see from the last photo, there is a large empty patch of dirt that I still need to prepare and plant up. As the potatoes are being harvested that also leaves an area that requires turning over, manuring with cow and alpaca goodness and then planted with a green manure, ready for winter crops. Call me mad, but this is living!