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[Here is the third installment of the Wilsons migration from suburbia]
I can smell the blossoms in the air! There is not a perfume in this world that comes anywhere close to this smell, nor will there ever be.
I have just taken delivery of my heirloom seeds and looking forward to getting them into trays. As always, I can’t resist trying some new guys like Valor and Harmony potatoes, Rotondo Rosa lettuce, all sorts of tomatoes and Bizana pumpkin to name a few! I am wondering where I am going to plant all these things! Of course when one thinks about melons, brinjals and marrow etc, they need space to ramble! I have also had to shop around a bit to find “organic” seed, some seeds I just can’t find like parsnips. Not everybody has everything.
We have just picked our first crop of beetroot, this time I seem to have got it right, they were delicious. Now comes the challenge in making sure I have a regular supply (for us in the Cape it is an all year round crop). Spinach, leeks, Texas onions (picked young like a spring onion), lettuce, peas, mounge tout are all in regular supply. My lettuce has been prolific and I am having to give some of it away. A fun idea is to pull them out of the ground, give them a shake, and pop them in a jar of water so they keep fresh and alive for days. One has to quickly figure out what to plant in their place (and think crop rotation!).
I have recently installed the “table top” in my new seed room (again old pallets ) . I have many six packs planted out now, and have opted to start everything off in this fashion. I am hoping it gives the plants a better start, especially with the sun drying out the soil so quickly. It also gives me more control over watering and when I actually want to plant out.
Now I have to figure out a self sufficient watering system to water the seeds (more on that in the future)! I fear water restrictions early on in the season.
Talking of seed trays, I have a couple of those polystyrene trays that hold many plugs and planted it out with carrot seed. As you may remember, I have had some problems with my carrots coming up and so decided to give them a helping hand. I originally thought that they would be OK in trays, but have subsequently found out that it may not be such a good idea as their roots can get rather twisted so I am anticipating twisted carrots. Hey, that could be novel!
I have also started with some experimentation of clay plastering. Based on old common practices, I am trying to make up a plaster combining, linseed oil, pure clay and horse manure and will paint this onto the cob walls. Provisional experiments have certainly shown that it can work, however looks like a couple of cracks are appearing, maybe more oil needed?
I have also started the expansion of the beds. The width has been increased from 3m to 5 m and I have now fenced all the way round to keep out the animals. With this of course means extending all the piping of the watering system. The fence will also be great to grow some hedgy things, like granadilla or berries. I am also taking delivery of more compost to throw over the extended beds.
I have sheet mulched along one of the long sides by putting some flattened cardboard boxes (removing the packing tape)straight onto the grass, some top soil (from my pond excavation) and compost (yes, at last am trying some from my own heap). The plan is to plant some colourful mielies (black mielies) and some wheat experimentation . Hopefully the mielies will also help in protecting the veg garden from the prevailing summer winds.
Our heirloom potatoes have been planted in both car tyres and in the veg beds so we will see what happens.
The waterblommetijies have started to come up in the pond, but our puppy has kindly set that growth back a bit with her playful antics in the water! The cormorant comes and goes, hopefully leaving us with some tadpoles. (I need the frogs for mosquito control in summer!). We have also had a heron visit, jeez, those tadpoles must be tasty. We have a new visitor too, a raucous toad or toads. They sound like ducks quacking constantly.
Our new herb garden is taking shape . I have changed the irrigation system from drip to spray. The line of thought here (so I hear), is that generally herb roots are pretty shallow and so the roots may not get water. So we will see how that pans out. We are planning to put in a standard (lollipop) bay leaf tree in the pot in the middle, but are struggling to find a suitable candidate as they apparently require lots of work and take their time, so nurseries are reticent to carry them. We are also hoping to source some interesting and unusual herbs. I have also started working on the entrance arches on either end. We have also put down some compost so should be able to plant shortly.
It is amazing what challenges are thrown up over the most simplest of things. An example is how to fit the latte gate to the herb garden entrance. What sort of hinging system to use that is as natural, simple and as long lasting as possible.
The compost loo is ready and has been tested by myself and children . It has yet to be proven house worthy and so remains on the stoep for now. We have to make sure that our one neigbour is not around before any ablutions take place!!! There is definitely something about looking out at nature whilst going about ones business –
Chickens are now on my mind and I am keen on trying to get some good old original South African birds like the Koekoeks (refer to Seans article on chickens). As space is an issue, we will start out with 6 hens. All going well, they should be able to supply us with enough eggs. This hasn’t been an easy task, but I think I have located some (thanks Sean). Transport permitting of course.
That’s it for now.