what is it about the birds!

We love the birds,005

We love that the birds love our garden.

Sort of that is.

Tuis love the flax.

Sparrows, thrushes, blackbirds and others love the strawberries and all other berries.

Chickens love whatever we share with them.

Wax Eyes love the flax flowers and the figs.

All the birds love our fruit.

BUT we have discovered an olive thief.

We have been watching our olive trees – we have 8 trees now, we have been watching the fruit grow.

This year all but one of the trees looked like they would provide us with an abundance. An abundance only because we have not yet had a harvest so any olives at all would be an abundance. Our trees are between 2 and 4 years old.

Suddenly all the fruit we had been watching grow has gone.

Oddly I thought, We have had many peacocks in the paddocks and orchard recently.

There has been an abundance of peacock droppings near our olive trees.

I did make the suggestion that maybe they like the olives.

Of course not said Best Beloved.

Well he was wrong, so wrong.

Bless his heart he even admitted it.

He and grandson watched some peacocks gathering olives from some larger trees across the road from the school bus stop.

Yes you guessed it – peacocks jump up and pick olives.

Now there is a new plan.

A plan to frighten away peacocks

So that we can have an olive harvest next year.

albino peacock and  friends

I am running out of containers

And it is a bit of a bother.

It seems as though I have been cooking for days on end – courgettes, tomatoes, peaches, apples and more. I have dried tomatoes and figs, stewed fruit, and I’ve even made Blackboy peach jam. Why would I do that? We don’t even eat jam, well, not very often. I have even pickled peaches which we haven’t tried yet and we have given away lots and lots of fruit and vegetables.

But there are only so many people who will wish to take away a bag of cucumbers. Again I mean. After I asked would they like a few cucumbers and the answer was yes, and I gave them a few, maybe a dozen or so. Next time the eyes glazed over when I offered cucumbers. I just didn’t have the strategy right, give a few and they will take more next time, now that would have been sensible wouldn’t it. Maybe I’ll do that next year, or maybe our Audrey (the cucumber vine which has delivered 250 plus cucumbers), will not reappear in our garden next spring.

IMG-20160318-WA0000Black Boy Peaches

But the biggest bother of all is containers, or lack there of, and of course the fact that I have still more cucumbers, figs, apples and peaches etc to process in one way or another.

My friends know that I have always shouted from the roof tops to anyone with half an ear listening that I simply don’t do desserts. My family has had to eat fresh fruit for dessert except on those rare occasions where a dessert really is required – maybe at Christmas or on a birthday or if we are entertaining.

But now – you guessed it. I will now have to be a creator of desserts. I have stewed apples and peaches and I must use them. I must. I must. I must.

So we have a freezer full of soups, sauces and stewed fruits. Cupboards with dried tomatoes and figs, a couple of jars of the pickled peaches and pots of jam.

And it is what we wanted when we came here to Miranda.

Yes it was.

Yes it really was.

I just didn’t realise how many containers I could need.

We have lost count of the jolly cucumbers

We have picked another 17 on one day and 4 or 5 or 8 or 1 on other days. Our plan to count all the cucumbers has gone awry as we have so much to deal with right now.

  • Buckets of tomatoes – to be frozen whole or made into sauces and soups
  • Courgettes
  • Blackboy peaches – they are not ripe yet but we (I) have been thinning them to make room for further growth and the the ones we have been picking are being stewed or are made into jam just because they are big enough
  • Aubergines
  • Beans – green and butter
  • We are also picking windfall apples, sorting pears to be stored and ripening others and checking our 6 fig trees daily to beat the birds.

    An after dinner fresh fig is such a delight.

    And we have just started a sourdough starter for making our own sourdough bread.

    So we have plenty to keep us busy right now.

    We think our cucumber count from one apple cucumber plant is well over 150.

    Another 10 cucumbers

    yesterday and I have yet to check today.

    Who would have thought – 90 apple cucumbers so far in the summer of 2016 – and all from one apple cucumber plant.

    another bag of cucmbers

    Since the beginning of summer we have been eating strawberries, loquats, plums, peaches and nectarines as well as our own avocados.

    What are we looking forward too?

    Pears, that’s what

    This year, our fifth summer and our very first pear crop.

    our first pears

    The tree is quite laden, but not dripping with pears but plenty for us.

    This excitement about another fruit is what it is all about, being here on our wee plot of land and literally enjoying the fruits of our labour.

    This year we will also pick a little olive crop and our first grapes and some blueberries too and black boy peaches and more strawberries and figs galore.

    Everything is good at the Fuddy Farm.

    where we are at

    To begin the process of change we do need to establish what we have and where and how it fits with the Permaculture strategy.

    We have 2 flat areas of garden with a bit of a slope between which was created by the previous owners of the property.

    The garden is fully fenced and the fence cover is windbreak cloth. It is about 2 metres high and is rabbit and chicken proof.

    Our chickens free range over the rest of the land except for two young ones aged about 11 weeks and they are contained in a fenced off area within the garden.

    Best Beloved has built 8 raised beds (about 30cm high).

    We also have 2 areas not raised but also in garden.

    Our worm farm is in a full sized bath with a door as the cover which hinged from the fence.

    We have 2 pallet compost bins, 2 other plastic bins, a 3 tier plastic compost bin and a tumble compost bin.

    Inside the garden we have 2 peach trees, 1 almond, 5 blueberries, cape gooseberries, 2 passionfruit vines, 1 grape vine, strawberries, an elderberry and 3 guavas and a kaffir lime tree.

    and lots of vegetables.

    The next step is to work out on paper what to do now.

    Maybe you have some ideas and of course I shall take photographs so it makes more sense

    we know not what we do

    In our garden we have been meandering along adding as need be, but recently I have been trying to work out the logic or the logistics of maintaining our garden into my 8th decade. I have about 18 months to go before I rush headlong into that 8th decade. Best Beloved is there already.

    I have been reviewing what we have done and how we can move forward with less physical labour but still harvest fruit and vegetables all year round.

    You would think that two people who have been gardening together for more than 47 years would now know something about gardening and I assure you we do.

    BUT

    We want to continue reaping the benefits of our garden but we do not want to continue working quite as hard at achieving it.

    I was lucky enough to find a book on the bookshelf of a friend a few weeks ago and I have now borrowed it, maybe indefinitely. The book is “The Permaculture Home Garden” by Linda Woodrow. The subtitle is “How to grow great-tasting fruit and vegetables the organic way – free of pesticides and chemicals”.

    I have not put the book down since it arrived at our house.

    My intention now is to convert what we have established into a thriving, easily manageable permaculture system designed to be sustainable and still easy for two oldies.

    I hope you come along for the ride.

    Best Beloved seems keen.

    42 mm rain already in 2016

    Summer is here in Miranda and we have enjoyed the first seasonal El Niño weather event which has delivered 42 mm rain since the New Year began. I checked the rain gauge on Saturday morning the 2nd January and I was delighted with the reading.

    I know that in the scheme of things 42 mm is not that much and there are many who have suffered greatly under this weather event with a great deal more rain and extreme winds.

    For us it means full water tanks and that I do not need to water our extensive garden and orchard for a few days which is fabulous. The wind has meant our potatoes and tomatoes have been seriously buffeted and that is annoying but the extra water is fantastic especially as it is predicted that we may have a drought over the summer.

    The rain is appreciated.

    Last day of October

    We are still very busy with our garden – trying to recover it after a cold and very wet winter. We have planted many many trees, including 41 feijoa trees during our time here in Miranda and my main task of these last few weeks has been to relocate the smaller ones in the long grass – weeding, clearing the grass and weeds close to them, applying worm tea and mulching with well composted horse manure and in doing so have been helping the wee trees to reach for the sun.

    My Best Beloved is laying paving for a patio. It was begun with help of a dear friend and two young German travellers. We do have a very large deck on the north side of the house but it is far too hot to use in the summer time and we cannot manage to stretch to a covered area hence the the paving between the house and my Best Beloveds brew house. The patio is on the west side of the house and is an area more often sheltered from wind and sun for more of the day and will be lovely when done.

    We still need to complete some fencing, but need some more willing helpers as the sheep netting is too heavy for us oldies to shift to the paddock and install. We also need a new section of fencing – which needs posts installed as well. That will enclose an area for future ducks in an orchard area. Maybe we can organise a working bee to complete some of this big job.

    One of our hens has two wee chicks which are about 2 weeks old now. We are watching our flock very carefully as think we may have another 2 hens thinking about going broody. We don’t want to lose a brood as we did last year due to silly positioning of the nest by the dotty mother hen to be. The nest had been positioned where water flowed when it rained so the chicks didn’t survive and the silly mother was in a place where we didn’t find the nest until too late to help.

    We are nearly where we thought we would be by this time 4 years after moving into this wee lifestyle block.

    I am trying in my mind to count our fruit and nut trees and it is well over a hundred – maybe at tree post might be in order.

    and my Best Beloved is cooking fish for lunch so am off now.

    PS – the wee trees lost in the grass are along the top of a bank, all of them are feijoas and they were sticks when we planted them. We had bought them at $1.00 each. Their job is to help hold the bank and if they give us fruit it will be a bonus and 2 have flowers this year so our mistreatment has not been all that bad. They are no longer sticks although some still look nearly as sickly as they did when we bought them.

    it was a cold grey morning with a bit of misty rain

    It was a cold and very early start for us – at the Ngatea Garage Sale.

    Having decided to have a stall selling our worm tea, or juice or wee or leachate – all terms I have seen we just didn’t decide early enough to enable us to prepare well – so we didn’t have labels and signage in place. We did write up a wee bit of information and some people did take it away. I hope they come back next year.

    We did speak to many people about what the worm farm does and how good it is for our soil health.

    Maybe next year more people will be interested.

    The results are evident here at Fuddy Farm after 3 years of the worm farm on our very definitely clay soil which had been scalped by a bulldozer prior to us buying it and starting our gardens and orchard.

    We did begin our garden 4 years ago in September 2012 but started out by buying some top soil and compost. We then began composting in earnest – we started compost heaps, bought and scavenged horse manure, and then 3 years ago our first worm farm began in a bath.

    To date we have 2 x 1 metre by 1 metre compost bins (made from pallets – one the chooks deal to and the other being created by us. We have a tumble bin, a 3 tier composter as well as a ready compost storage bin. We have one bath worm farm from which we take the worm wee, dilute it, and use on the gardens and around our fruit trees. We have one large pile of horse manure with various grasses, hay and wood chip with it and worms, it is about 3 by 3 metres – and should be ready to use by January. We have another bath with worms, it is full of horse manure and thousands of leaves gathered in the autumn at Mangatangi school. We do feed garden and kitchen scraps to both the bath worm farms. We also gather sea weed on the shoreline after storms and so have bags of autumn leaves and piles of seaweed quietly breaking down.

    We also have an ongoing supply of chicken poo and straw. Our chickens also deal with garden and kitchen waste which we place in one of the pallet bins – and they convert it into compost for us.

    We very nearly have an excellent garden and orchard.

    It does sound like a lot of work setting it all up – but we have taken 4 years and have slowly slowly worked on the infrastructure (good word that) of our place.

    Now we are just running the various processes although we do have two more baths to establish worm farms in and the rest will simply continue composting for us. In the longer term it might be that the worms will take over much of our composting process and why not – they don’t complain and they just get on with the job and as two retirees in time we may not feel like lugging all that compost about. see here for information about worms etc

    So a year from now when we attend the Giant Ngatea Garage Sale (in October 2016), we will have an excellent garden and orchard and we will have labelled bottles of worm tea or juice, or wee, or leachate and information for anyone interested as well as signs that people will understand.

    Our hand written worm juice and worm tea signs prompted many odd statements and we were even asked how we had munted the worms to make the worm juice.

    huh!!!

    Worms are our friends, we only feed them.

    I think we will pick mandarins this week

    I know the tree is not very large yet and has only been here in our ground for nearly 3 years and this year we will have fruit for the very first time.

    It is an easy peel Satsuma Mandarin. It shouldn’t have any or many pips – but I now understand that if it is planted close to other citrus with pips it may increase them in the mandarin. We won’t know if that is really so until we try these.

    our wee mandarin tree

    Near where this is planted there are 7 lemons, 2 limes, 2 tangelos as well as a blood orange.

    This tree is the first sign of abundance in citrus fruit although we have enjoyed the odd Meyer lemon.

    And yes we are excited.