Let’s start with what went well so far: below is our modest crop of sweet potatoes, all grown in a bathtub – technically, actually only about 1/4 to 1/3 of a standard bathtub was required, as the sprawling vines were mostly left to hang over the edge of the tub, thus saving the remainder of the space for other seedlings.
These babies went into an epic goat curry, if I may say so myself.
Next – parsley, comfrey and some green manure, in the raised garden bed adjacent to our veranda. This bed used to have ornamentals, and the soil was exceptionally poor. Fireman added a couple of ute loads of cow manure, layered with straw, about 7 months ago. The earthworms that have emerged since are the size of my fingers, and doing rather well.
Also in the same front veranda raised garden bed: more sweet potato. This one has been left to grow rampant. We are in the “experimenting” stage with all of this.
The ramshackle set up below is Fireman’s first aquaponics set up: minimal cost, small in size, he has worked it all out and it’s a trial to see how to do it, what grows well, etc. Unlike most other aquaponics set ups around the world, we cannot use tilapia, since this is a declared pest species in Queensland, and it would be irresponsible to obtain some (if we could). I think Fireman ordered two different perch species, but I’m not entirely sure which ones they are. So far, so good.
These are the aquaponics cherry tomatoes, though they seem a bit big for cherry size. There’s also basil growing (prolifically).
And here are 3 pumpkins, none of which we grew – however, the 2 on the right were growing wild at the local green waste station down the road. No one ever planted or watered these, yet here they are. Spicy pumpkin soup will be a feature this winter.
And finally, here are our 3 New Hampshire chickens, happily roaming around. We usually have them locked in a chook enclosure when we are away and also at night – too much risk otherwise with wild dogs, neighbour’s dogs etc. The enclosure is reasonable in size, but personally I like to see my chickens wild and free, so I let them out whenever we are at home – and they love it…
The one on the left above is not doing as well as the other two. She’s had a problem with a foot for a long time now – I checked and it wasn’t broken, no signs of disease or infection, but she had a strong limp all of a sudden (the neighbour’s dog had a go at them when they were locked up, it is possible she may have tripped or stepped incorrectly when the dog startled them…)
They are rather beautiful birds, a bit bigger than Isa Brown. As a heritage breed they won’t lay as many eggs as the Isa Brown, however we still get 1 to 2 eggs a day (occasionally there is a day of no eggs now and then) – and I do suspect this is because one of them may not be laying, specifically the one that is not looking too well, but I’m not fussed – we get plenty for 2 people.
Below: something called duck weed. This stuff multiplies like bacteria in a petri dish. Fireman decided to get some to feed the chickens and the fish in the aquaponics set up.
And now for some failures:
– the nasturtiums died – possibly lack of rain;
– the sage all got decimated by grasshoppers;
– any seeds planted in our bath tubs to germinate over the summer, and well up until now, mostly wilted and died from the sun and the heat. This includes about 80% of the rocket seed, all the coriander seeds, lettuce etc. This was both when we actually had a cover over the beds, which we took down in March, but even in early April it seems the sun is just too hot here. Next season we’ll have a proper shade cloth up, and I’ll actually hold back on any seed planting from December to March. Seasoned tropical gardeners know that summer is the time to put your feet up here (a bit like winter in the northern hemisphere), but I learn the hard way…
– all of the corn seed planted did not germinate, not one single one. We’re talking about 100 seeds plus. The first batch, I may have over-watered, plus the seed raising mix was not that great a quality. Upon retrieving the seeds, I found a lot had a white worm /larvae inside! The second batch, I changed the seed raising mix to a premium, and still nothing. This is not new seed, it is about 18 months old, so that could be it, but I just don’t know.
…Look at it all, so neat and barren…
And last, the darn grasshoppers have made a good dent in our struggling lemon tree. I spent some time during winter adding compost and worm juice, and watched with delight as new growth appeared so lush, and then…
I don’t think there is a single leaf that has not been munched on. To be fair, we didn’t plant this or the lime tree behind it, it is not the best spot but never mind. The grasshopper season is swiftly coming to an end so fingers crossed it will recover.
Until next time,