[Here is part two of the Wilson’s efforts in becoming self-sustainable, in part 1 Tristram laid our the groundwork and what/why their family is embarking on this journey. Once again we wish him and his family well and all the best for the coming season.]
Well, it has been an interesting time. Winter has brought with it a few surprises. The frost has been slightly more than anticipated and I think I may have lost my beans in the result. After a little thinking as to how to overcome this, I have made a basic latte cover. It is cheap to make and shouldn’t blow away- now we will have to see how the rest of the bed manages!
We have also since acquired a golden retriever pup and she has had a great time in the vegetable garden biting out my plastic (old milk bottle) row markers. I have managed to solve the problem by using large white river stones that were close at hand and then writing the description on them with koki.
We have been happily eating our lettuce, peas and radish; the poor old peas haven’t even had a chance to grow up, as we are consuming them at such a rate! (Our first heirloom crop I might add –thanks Sean!)
Of course being winter in the Cape we have plenty of rain, so at this stage we are not having to water at all, just a bit of weeding and mulching. I had originally had in mind to use the bottom of my compost heap for this, as it should have matured by now, but when recently checked out, we realized that it wasn’t ready enough. We may use some straw or dead grass clippings instead. The original compost layer (if you remember, started out at about 100mm high) is now starting to reduce. This is also a good sign as the earthworms are hopefully very active and it is all rotting down and enriching the unturned soil underneath.
The seed room is almost ready (Black wattle main posts with thinner latte for the roof). I am waiting for the cob walls to dry so that I can lime plaster them and put some old scaffolding planks on top as a surface for the seed trays.
We have also started a small herb potage garden also using cob for the low central wall. The idea will be to plant a bay leaf tree in a pot in the middle of it. We also hope to grow both culinary and medicinal herbs. Hopefully being able to include some weird and wonderful species!
For some or other reason my carrots have not been a success. I have a suspicion that when I first sowed them, the sun killed them off during the odd warm day and I hadn’t managed to surface water in time! I am considering trying out seed trays so we shall see. Be careful in this regard as it is very easy to get caught out.
Some veggies have not come up at all and to fill those gaps, I am planting both garlic and ordinary chives and some marigolds and nasturtiums as insect repellents.
Have also started a “manure” compost heap using dog doo and which will later be followed with our first compost loo. I used old pallets which I wired together to make four sides. An excellent book to read on the subject is Joseph Jenkins’ Humanure. www.humanurehandbook.com
The pond is maturing nicely (dug out a few months back), with tadpoles aplenty (always a good sign). We have also noticed a visiting kingfisher and cormorant obviously enjoying the tadpoles. Some indigenous plant life has been planted around the edges and some waterblommetjies too. The pond has also been dug close to a willow tree to encourage the weaver birds. We are also hoping to introduce some indigenous fish. Dog of course loves this, and wet muddy feet in the house goes down a treat!
Our rainwater tank is full and encourages one think of erecting another one. All our drinking and cooking water comes from this. It should also see us through summer. The plan is to purchase a much larger one and plumb it into the house for showering and the loo’s (Hopefully the compost loo will be kicking in by then!). Having thatch on the roof tends to make our water look a little brown, but hey, that’s part of the deal.
Until next time……