Day 4 Monday 21st March
No sewing today. Obviously at this point in time it is my second priority - it is easier to find segments of time for this activity than for the big jobs of the garden, and I am really keen to make significant progress over the next few weeks.
I borrow Dad as skivvy again today, and he persuaded me to borrow their 'truck' as well (a Toyota Land Cruiser used to tow the off-road caravan). The reason? To get 10 bales of straw and 5 of lucerne (or 'shedded hay') for the no-dig beds. Even with the trailer attached we had to make two trips. The 10 straw bales first, then unhitch the trailer & get the 5 lucerne on the second trip. This sort of job really eats into the time for 'real' garden work.
We got the straw & lucerne from the same place we bought our chickens, guinea fowl & chicken tractor last year, Northside Produce. I love visiting this place, even more so since they moved from Carseldine (opposite the Guide Dogs) to Albany Creek. Now they not only have the chickens, ducks, parrots and fish, but goats, reptiles, pigs, the odd horse, pup & kitten as well. Great fun and really nice people. I get my chicken food here as well. A genuine produce store. It is more convenient now too, we can pop in on the way home from Mum & Dad's or soccer, therefore cutting our carbon footprint, and the time taken.
Now the place is starting to look a bit like a farm - I have my own hay stack!
OK, that might be a slight exaggeration - but I did add one more traditional farm feature - the gate to the vege patch closes with a very simple post & loop, just like I used to use on friends' farms as a child.
First you slip the lower end of the post through a wire loop (left).
Then lever the top, tensioning the wire gate, and slip the upper loop over the top of the post (below).
I had this set up from last year, when I tried to make a bit of a chicken run down the side of the house. But we soon gave that up and have let them truly free-range (they often visit the neighbours & the nature strip).
Anyway, the wire was fastened about 15cm above the bottom of the post, which is needed to slip it through the wire loop anyway. But it did mean I had to add some wire to the bottom to stop the chickens just walking under.
I cut the left over wire and folded it to have a smooth edge at the bottom (didn't want the chickens cutting themselves). Then I used the wire that had wrapped the roll of chicken mesh to 'stitch' the pieces together.
The paving stones, from under the front deck (where the haystack is now), placed under the gate, stop the chickens being able to dig their way in.
But that is about all that resembles a farm so far. Our only productive items so far are our chickens, averaging at least 5 eggs each a week, possibly 6, so doing really well, and our passionfruit vine.
Both our neighbour P and ourselves planted passionfruit on our boundary fence, two different varieties. They grew really fast. P read that chicken manure was good for them and asked if she could collect some. Unfortunately it was only later that we discovered that the manure had to be 'aged', fresh manure 'burns' the plant. P's plant started dying off dramatically. Ours, fertilised with diluted 'worm wee' has gone great guns, and I have never seen bigger, or tasted richer passionfruit. It is a Panama Red. Mum & Dad were so impressed when they tasted some (they wouldn't believe J4 at first that they came from our garden), that they have bought a Panama Yellow and planted it against their fence. We'll swap fruit once theirs is producing.
It is also part of controlling fruit fly organically - by not giving them a chance to lay their eggs in the fruit & then the maggots get into the soil.
The last part of the day's physical work was to lay the pavers in the vege garden to mark out the beds, and provide a place to work from when tending the garden. Now we can better see the size of them. After all this I was exhausted - to put it politely, and desperately in need of a shower!
Over the last week I had gone through my two new Diggers Club catalogues / magazines and marked all the plants I was interested in. I then went through them again listing the plants in four groups, Legumes, Root Crops, Fruiting Crops and Foliage Crops - to match the four vegetable beds, plus herbs, companion plants and some strawberries for the hanging pots. This enabled me to see where I might need to narrow down, or add missing crops. I've filled my shopping cart, but the site seems to be having some problems with 'checking out'.
I joined the Digger's club because they seem to be a well respected group who encourage & supply heritage fruit & vegetables. They also maintain two gardens for testing & education. Of course the lower members price on seeds is welcome (I will have almost saved my 2 year membership fee on my first order, so no complaints there). But a really big bonus is their excellent information about the plants, and easy access to heritage open pollinated seeds, that I can then save seeds from (provided I'm careful about cross-pollination in some cases). I also don't have to stand in a nursery, trying to make my mind up on the spot, without all the information I need.
Although I didn't actually get any sewing done - I did meet some fellow sewers who have formed a new group on the northside.
Called Brisbane Sewing there were 4 or 5 girls with sewing machines in one of the meeting rooms at Chermside Library when I took J4 & L6 on Sunday. It was their first face-to-face meeting, they hope to meet there at least once a month, on a weekend. They will post their meetings on meetup-com. This could be great for me as I can't make it to Sisters of Stitch, which is fortnightly on Wednesdays, seeing as I am usually at work.
At least one of the girls is involved in another group, Brisbane Northside Knitting and Crotchet Group - also listed on meetup.com and they also meet mostly on weekends to accommodate working members. Promising.
Cup of green tea (& maybe a glass of wine) time.
Bye for now