Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

First broad bean sprout

Our first broad bean of the season has just poked its head out of the soil!

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We have a row planted where the bean curtain was over summer, a spot that’s roasting in summer but might not be sunny enough in winter. Time will tell.

[edit: a sprout, not a spirit!]

Thinking about foraging

Last October, I found a bunch of morels on my way to work. I picked them, but not trusting my identification skills I used them to inoculate my garden. I figure I can grow whatever they are, and show them to a mushroom expert when I fine one.

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But it has got me thinking: what could we find if we put or minds to it? I went looking for black trumpets today, and I think I may have found some remnants:

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They look terrible but I think they may have been black trumpets once. No point picking them: there wasn’t much left to identify. I’ll try the spot again later though.

And here is what I think is Hawthorne, from a park:

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There would have been buckets of them. We went looking for white mulberry, but couldn’t find any.

Problem is, the stakes are high with wild food. Misidentification is a mistake you might only make once.

Does anyone have a good reference for foraging? How could I be sure that I’m not going to poison myself?

Rainbow chard on a sunny afternoon

Our prolific silver beet and rainbow chard

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New vegetable garden

In about October, we built a new garden bed. It’s next to a public path but sheltered by trees.

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We filled it with salad veg (rather than tomatoes or berries) because we figure if you encourage opportunistic dog walkers to pause and sample the produce, their dogs will leave their thanks by proxy. No one is going to stop for a silver beet snack!

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Two months on and the bed is looking good! Lots of silver beet, which graces the table pretty much every day. But what has become of the kale?

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Apparently caterpillars don’t like to eat stems! Does anyone have a preferred control method?

Exploding strawberries

The rain, sun, good soil and fertiliser have done amazing things for our strawberry plants:

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Can’t wait till they start to ripen!

Getting ready for summer part 1

I’m trying to be a little more prepared for the prime growing season this year: sprouting for food was replaced with sprouting for the garden a while back.

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The strawberries have been in dirt for a few weeks now and they are sprouting real leaves. They’re so tiny! They’re in egg cartons in a plastic tub that I keep in the sunroom.

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The basil went into dirt today: it’s too early for outside planting but they should be ok in pots on the deck.

And this year, the tomatoes got the jump on me! These are self seeded from last year’s crop. I’ll put some seeds under glass to sprout soon.

The beginnings of a bean teepee

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Rooster logistics

We’ve been getting a few questions recently about the logistics of keeping roosters in suburbia so I thought I would write a bit more about life with our boys.

Hugh, with his girls

We currently have three (eek) roosters: two Araucanas (father and son Craig and Hugh) and a Light Sussex (Clock). We also don’t count any cockerels we may have growing out for eating at any given time – their first crow is sadly usually their death warrant by the following weekend.  We only plan to have two breeding roosters in the long term.  The reason we have three at the moment is that Hugh (the son) is bigger and better looking than Craig (the father), but Hugh got sick a lot in last summer and autumn and we a) kept expecting Hugh to just die, and b) were sure as soon as we decided he would be fine and knocked off Craig, Hugh would get sick again and die, leaving us roosterless.  So Craig has sort of been hanging around as a backup.  Plus Craig has a very sweet temperament (as does Hugh) and we do like to breed for calm chickens.

Craig, with his girls

(Much younger then) Craig in the kitchen

Clock, however, is a whole ‘nother story – he’s a bit of a bastard.  We were given Clock and decided to breed from him (replacing Red the RIR) because he is quite simply massive and we are breeding for meat.

Clock, in all his massive glory.

But as he has gotten older, Clock can be a bit aggressive and I won’t turn my back on him while in the main pen, nor will I let the 3 year old in the main pen anymore, which is sad for her.  So Clock will probably be heading for the great crock pot in the sky soon – his only saving grace at the moment is his fertility which is excellent!

We built a proper night box (documented here and here) to keep the roosters (Craig and Red at the time) quiet at night and in the morning.  Red kept crowing at random times in the middle of the night and it took us a while to work out that he was waking and crowing anytime our toddler was crying out in the night.  With our new baby due (last March) we knew we’d need decent night accommodation to keep him quiet!

The night box is divided in two so that we can keep two roosters.  Hugh and Clock sleep in it at the moment.  We hoped it would be soundproof, but it’s not, though it does severely muffle the crowing.  When Red slept in there we also used to have a portable radio hanging in there at night to provide more white noise to stop him waking and crowing at sounds in the night, but we haven’t needed this for the current residents.

Logistically, we pick up the roosters and put them into the night box at some point in the evening, usually after they have roosted, but occasionally before if we can be bothered catching them.  We then let them out in the morning.  On a weekday we let them at around 7am.  On a weekend it is more like 8 -10am.  The record lateness was the day our son was born this year – they didn’t get let out until 1pm when we got home from the hospital.  They were fine, just keen to get out!

The night box is sitting in the run of the main pen, so when we open the door Clock just explodes out of it and immediately starts chasing his girls.  Hugh knows to sit and wait until he is carried across the yard to his pen (where he also immediately starts chasing his girls).  Moving them twice a day is beneficial as it means that they are used to being handled.  This means that Hugh at least is quite tame.  Handling Clock a bit also helps to remind him that we are top of the pecking order, not him.

Moving them around twice a day is, to be honest, a colossal pain in the ass.  Clock is really big and I (SF) can’t quite get my hands around him enough to pin his wings down so I usually make WWMD put them in at night.  However, we think of it as a responsibility of keeping roosters in a suburban setting.  We have fantastic neighbours and we want to keep them that way!  We discussed with all our surrounding neighbours when we were thinking of keeping roosters, and they all assured us that it was fine.  Almost all of our surrounding neighbours have dogs that bark a lot (which we also don’t mind) so they were very understanding about animal noise.  We check in with them regularly to check that the crowing isn’t bothering them.  We also reiterate regularly that they need to let us know if the roosters start to bother them so that we can revisit the sound proofing, though thankfully this hasn’t happened yet.  Our bedroom is also the closest to the night box of all the neighbours so we should be able to hear a problem before they do!

There isn’t much we can do about the crowing in the day.  They usually have several crowing sessions throughout the day, and if one starts they all start up so it can be quite noisy at times.  Clock likes to stand up on top of the night box and crow his heart out.

That’s about all I can think of for now, but I’m happy to answer questions in the comments!

BTW did anyone notice that this is our 101st post?!  I can’t believe we have passed 100!

Broad bean flowers

Aren’t they cute? Once fully grown, these, chicken livers and a nice chianti will form the basis of a meal fit for a deranged cannibal.

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Sprouts!

Sprouts are my new favorite thing to grow! Seeds in bulk packs from any grocery store, and just add water!

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These are mustard seeds; we’ve done mung bean and linseed sprouts already, and Chia are on the way! After this I’m going to go for coriander sprouts. Winter had made it hard for the garden to keep up with our fresh veg needs: no idea why it took me so long to start sprouting!

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