Hugelkultur

Screen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.14.13 pmScreen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.14.04 pmScreen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.13.46 pmScreen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.14.19 pmScreen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.12.48 pmScreen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.11.44 pmThis past week I’ve been working on an epically large project.  The ground has been dug up to about two feet to be lined with logs and fallen timber in a process of soil regeneration called hugelkultur.

It’s a simple concept.  You’re taking carbon life forms and placing them into the soil to slowly decompose beneath your garden bed.  The results can have a lasting effect for up to 20 years!

The bed I’ve created was lined with logs then filled with jade cuttings and branches from around the house yard.  The next layer was compost.  Topping that was a huge layer of seaweed which we collected from Greenhead.  The seaweed took three trips to cover the entire bed.  The last few steps involve topping the green matter with the soil that was dug out, then adding a final layer of compost and hay or mulch.

My body has pulled me through this process – surprisingly with little soreness.  Overall exhaustion though was at an all-time high after I singlehandedly dug out the pit!  This is definitely a job for multiple people.

Wesley has particularly taken to the pit.  He’s also found great joy in all the mounds he can push his little dump truck over.

Only time will tell if the soil retains moisture – we’re going to let it settle and get some more decent rains on it before moving to the stage of planting.

All in all – this has been a thrilling project.  I really can’t wait to see how the veggies grow!

The first crop of onions.

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-37-50-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-33-16-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-01-at-9-04-17-amscreen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-27-13-pmTo put a seed into the soil is to believe in the future.  You trust that earth, water and time will bring you nourishing food.  Time has brought us 8 red onions and a random white one.

They grew in rather close quarters, and a tiny lesson has been learned.  We must plant them at a greater space to allow for bigger bulbs next year.

I’ve trimmed them and foolishly placed said onions onto the mantle in our kitchen.  Now, I am airing out our whole home from the intense perfume of fresh onions.

Another novice mistake.

Now they sit on the porch airing out for a few days before I store them in the cupboard.

Do you have a recipe that features onions that you love?  I’ll probably need to get through these red ones rather quick!  

We’ve been misted today in a dainty almost microscopic rain.  You know the kind that lightly falls on your face and skin, it feels refreshing?  Eventually it saturates you to the core, and yet at the same time is lovely because it is warm.  Summer rain, is so pleasant.

This constant rain has made New Zealand’s soil fertile and created an optimal growing season in many regions.  Palmerston North has had one of the wettest summers on record.  We can only help but flash back to our struggles in Eneabba trying to grow our food in the hot heat of summer.  We watered it endlessly.  Many of our plants died.  Here, we hope for some more sunlight to help ripen our green tomatoes. Though, I’ve heard they are good fried green anyway!

Organic Gardening – Trial & Errors

Today I dug for potatoes.  I thought, maybe there might be something there?  And by god there was!  About a month ago I pulled up one shoot only to see the teeniest little spud growing.  Mike assured me we should wait a lot longer.  After this tragic realisation, I had a flash back to that time I dug up my dead guinea pig.screen-shot-2017-01-06-at-8-21-30-amscreen-shot-2017-01-06-at-8-18-57-amscreen-shot-2017-01-06-at-8-19-33-amscreen-shot-2017-01-06-at-8-19-47-amscreen-shot-2017-01-06-at-8-22-17-amscreen-shot-2017-01-06-at-8-19-59-amI had thought at the time, that it might be a “dinosaur” (it was 2 weeks post burial).  I was around 8-9 years old (My shovel hit something and when I pulled it out from the earth there was guinea pig skin all wet and sticking to the shovel.  My 4 sisters were screaming at me, and I think they all still consider me a terrible monster for digging in the first place!  Anyway, clearly the lesson was not learned.

I’m still impatient.

We’ve now dug up a medium sized bowl full of all sizes of the glorious spuds.  These were planted in about September.  We had a potato in our pantry that had grown eyes and lots of shoots at the time.  I segmented it into separate parts for each shoot and dug them into our pallet garden bed.  Seriously stoked, each time I dug into the dark soil – there was another pale nugget!

We’ve learned the hard way not to plant sweet corn near our tomato plants as they attract a moth that lays it’s ravenous little babies (whom especially love the corn but also enjoy green tomatoes).  To combat this issue naturally, Mike trimmed the tomato plants at the base up to 12 inches from the ground.  He also did a thorough scan for the caterpillars and “eliminated” them.  I think he fed them to the fish tank…

Initially Wesley and I would spend about 10 minutes a day weeding in the garden.  We did this for about 3 weeks.  Now, there are very few weeds to pull and it’s all become quite an easy process.  To be honest though, I found weeding quite therapeutic (at least this standing version anyway – probably wouldn’t have been so keen bending down).

Most of the other plants have grown exceptionally well (bar the capsicum and chilli – they seem to be awaiting warmer weather).

A few months back I harvested the seeds from the coriander, sage and thyme plants.  I then trimmed them down.  They all have continued to flourish – and I’ve noticed even now the sage is flowering again!  It’s quite a stunning plant, and looks great in the batch we have growing.

The herbs we have successfully grown:

Coriander, Thyme, Sage, Lemon Grass, Rosemary, Italian Parsley, Broad Leaved Parsley, Watercress, Chives, Rocket and Basil.

Plants that we’ve grown or are in the midst of waiting:

Eggplant, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Sweet Corn, Kale, Lettuce, Capsicum, Silver Beet, Beetroot, Chilli Plants, Capsicum, Strawberries, Apple Seeds, Lemon Seeds, Radishes, Fennel, Spinach, Perpetual Spinach, Baby Carrots, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Red Onions & Leeks.

Total failures:

  1. Mint.  Which is pretty odd considering the stuff grows like a weed everywhere else!
  2. Avocado.  These have been in water waiting to grow for months.  Either we’re doing something totally wrong or the seeds aren’t good for germinating.  Has anyone reading ever sprouted an avocado before?  Mike’s brother managed to get some sprouting in a humid glass house…but we don’t yet have one of those.

Dear reader what natural strategies do you use to manage pests?  Do you have a preferred vegetable that you enjoy growing each season?

Ps: Yup, I wear overalls now.  Haha, my sister really despises them – but who cares! Ever since Wesley was born I’ve found them to be the best thing to roll around and get messy in.