Thursday, April 15, 2010

A greenhouse built with reclaimed materials

Frost season is nearly upon us. So cladding the greenhouse has been a priority. However not wanting to rack up my hardware account or buy new materials, I've been patiently waiting for an alternative to arrive.

Then, a few days ago, Zeph and I were asked to demolish the front laserlight wall of a friend's workshop, as he needs to expand the space. We lucked in big time as Pete gave us the very useful and strong laserlight, along with the hardwood framing material that we'll use for another project. Thanks Pete! Today I was able to clad, or rather semi-clad, the greenhouse.

A few nights ago we thought we were going to have the first frost and I placed the laser light and some salvaged plastic from the building site next door over as much of the pumpkin patch as I could.

Just a few more weeks and we'll have a wonderful harvest, but a heavy frost now will end it all. So on cold, clear and still nights (like this one) I need to set the alarm and get up and hose down the frost before the sun burns the leaves and ends the months of growth for nothing.

After I finished installing the laser light I planted celery, pak choy, mini cauliflower, leek and cabbage underneath.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Co-op? Yes please

Cubans today consume about 80% organic food. The food is for everyone, not just for a wealthy few, and as a result diabetes rates are extremely low. Compare this to Australia where only about 4% of the food consumed is organic, often only afforded by the wealthy, in a country that has one of the highest rates of diabetes on the planet. Many of us in this wee community have for some time spoken about the desire for an organic food co-op with an emphasis on local produce. But action hasn't come... until now. Thanks to the energy of those pictured below (Sebastian Klein and Julian Blackhirst) we have a chance at realising this essential community asset.

A COMMUNITY push to form a wholefoods co-operative in Daylesford has gained momentum. A meeting will be held at the Daylesford Neighbourhood Centre on April 26 to gauge interest in the idea and to formulate a plan for getting the idea off the ground. Read on here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Preserves for the winter

Fruits we've preserved:


Preserving method:


Other materials:

Gleaned bottles
Rain water
Piped gas

Rear view

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Under the soil where the gods will grow

Meg's been making more preserves. The cumquat marmalade she made is awesome. My quince jelly, however, didn't set despite using several green quince which apparently have more pectin in them than ripe ones. Still it tastes great and we will drizzle it over our morning porridge throughout the winter. We're not fans of 'gourmet' preserves, especially ones that use so much sugar and are therefore reliant upon monoculture cane farming. We're going to stick to stewing and poaching using local honey as a sweetener next year. To choose between big agribusiness or the local apiarist is a no brainer.

We had some friends come to stay over the weekend and to celebrate we picked our first-for-the-season pumpkin. It was a little under ripe, but still made an excellent soup. Come on Jack Frost, I know you're lurking, but please hold off a few more weeks!

Zeph and I worked up a sweat today turning the soil and breaking the clods in the north wall patch before planting 100 leek seedlings and 100 garlic cloves. We finished on dark just as the heavens opened and dumped a good fall. A gardener's wish come true.

As we turned and aerated the soil we found big juicy worms, so Zeph marched them down to the chooks to gobble. We're spoiling them more than usual at the moment as we're only getting one egg a day from five hens. The two new chooks are still settling and the pecking order has been interrupted, so it's no wonder they're at odds with their usual laying habits. Meg's been keen to make a zucchini cake, but until the girls start to lay again we can put that delicious ideal on hold.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Self-seeding, quick growing, sewing and storing

The zucchinis have been prolific giving us daily pickings for the past several weeks. Food that is this easy and quick to grow is a blessing. It's odd that something that is this much of a gift is scorned at this time of year. It's also odd that I have so much respect for this fruit when during my childhood I loathed them.

The eggplants are still providing and we have enjoyed making chips with them on the BBQ. With better soil next year we will be sure to increase the crop.

We have five small avocados that have self-seeded next to the self-seeded pumpkin patch. We'll see what the frost does to them. At least 5 pumpkins are ready now, but if we don't have a frost for a few more weeks we may have as many as 30 Queensland blues to store. We have an Avocado Bacon on order from the local nursery. They, along with the Hass, are supposed to be best in a cold climate, although we haven't had much luck with our Hass to date.

Meg's been making cumquat marmalade. Our store of food for the winter is growing with over 40 jars of preserved fruit – grown, gleaned or gifted. We had almost a year's supply of garlic stored from last year's crop and I have been preparing the new garlic bed for this year's planting. Everyone around here has been saying early April is the best time to plant garlic, and not later on the conventional shortest day of the year. The soil is still warm and they seem to kick on until the depth of winter if they're planted now. Garlic and leek will be planted in this patch and possibly some bare-rooted fruit and nut trees later in the winter.