Archive for July, 2011

Chooks Ho!!….update #12…penultimate!

July 25, 2011

I’m into the home strait! I’m working on the front (doorway) end of the chookyard.

I’ve put in two uprights for the door frame, with cross pieces top and bottom, and the wire on both sides of the doorway. I’ve bought the pine framing for the door and have cut it out and I’m trying to decide on the best way of butt-joining the pieces.

I was originally planning to put some sort of fancy cladding on the door, but I think I’ll keep it as light as possible and just use wire:

I’m really chuffed…..

July 21, 2011

…..with my new food dehydrator.

I’ve dried all the home-grown apples I had stored, individually wrapped, at the bottom of the bathroom cupboard. Most were well past the ripe and crunchy state and a few were little soft balls of mould (the worms got those—lucky they were individually wrapped!).

I’m not normally an apple person. If I do buy them, they tend to sit in the fruit bowl till they’re past their use-by date and then they go to the worms. I certainly couldn’t eat 3 apples all at once, but with a bowl of dried apple slices beside me at the computer, I can do just that. Taking the moisture out of food means the nutrients are concentrated and you can eat more of it.

I’ve also dried kiwifruit, onions, garlic, red capsicum (one that went mushy in the fridge, but half was OK), lemon & orange peel and sliced ginger (for my morning cup of ginger and honey tea).

I can’t wait for the summer stone-fruit and tomato season to begin!

Chooks Ho!!….update #11

July 18, 2011

I’ve now finished the rear of the chook yard. The nestbox is in place and so is the wire. I’ve put the heavier 1 ” wire from the ground up to the level of the star pickets (a metre) and have put slightly thinner half-inch wire from there up to the top, mainly because it was easier to cut and bend into shape around the polypipe arches (it’s hard to see because it has a green plastic coating on it). I’m hoping a fox wont be able to chew through it:

Next job will be to put a gate on the other end of the yard, do some more planting around the outside and investigate different types of water container.

You meet the nicest people blogging

July 18, 2011

Had a great afternoon yesterday visiting the garden of Frogdancer, from Dancing With Frogs blog. We met online through our mutual food-growing blogs and it turns out she’s only a 50 min drive from me.

Through the Sustainable Gardening Australia website, Frogdancer has formed a group of  people in her local area interested in growing food.

She asked if the group could visit my garden and they’ll be coming in September.

Yesterday’s group meeting was at Frogdancer’s garden and I asked if I could join them.

So I met her for the first time, plus two dogs, two cats and six beautiful chooks, all of whom I’d read about online  (I think there were a couple of teenage sons hovering in the background as well).

I also got to see the new wicking beds and mulcher she’d recently bought and hear about future plans for more food growing. We swapped seeds and I even scored a newly laid egg!

An enjoyable afternoon. It’s heartening to meet and share knowledge with others trying to be more self-sufficient. Thanks Froggie!

Chooks Ho!!….update #10

July 11, 2011

After a week when I did nothing much except lie in bed with a pulled back muscle (not entirely wasted….I read Jackie French’s Chook Book and watched permaculture videos), I finally got back to the chookyard project and attached the external nestbox to the end of the coop.

I  put in a central post at the end of the yard and attached wire to one side of it. Then I cut out a rectangle of wire level with the hole in the end of the coop where the nestbox was to be inserted. It was a bit fiddly and I’m not happy with the gap between the top of the box and the wire, but it’s necessary to enable the nestbox lid to be lifted right up.  A small fox could easily jump up onto the nestbox and squeeze through the gap, so I’ll fill in the gap with some sort of easily moveable barrier, probably just another strip of wire.

I was also unhappy about the full weight of the nestbox being suspended on just two screws on each side. I put in an extra screw per side but have jammed a little wooden table underneath it. It used to be a bird bath table and wasn’t being used any more, so I was glad it could be put it to use.

Next job will be to put wire on the right side of the post and then that end of the yard will be finished.

I should go into the tamarillo business!

July 9, 2011

I harvested the last of my tamarillos, weighed them and totted up the totals. A tad under 5 kilos from 5 plants.

You don’t see tamarillos much in the shops. I doubt whether anyone grows them commercially. I’ve seen them selling cheaply at Sunday markets and it’s obvious they come from home garden trees.

So I was surprised to see them on sale in my local Coles stoopidmarket recently. $1.78 each. Ouch!

I weighed an average-sized one of mine, about the same size as those in Coles. 50 gm. So I must have harvested about 100. Worth $178 at Coles prices! That’s nearly $36 per kilo. More expensive than steak!

Cut off the stem end, slice down the middle and scoop out the pulp with a spoon (the skin isn’t eaten). Top with whipped cream for a real feast!

Survival foods….are you prepared?

July 8, 2011

Here’s a very good article by Isabell Shipard at the Permaculture Research Institute website.

Isabell runs a herb farm in Queensland and has written books and runs courses on growing herbs and survival foods. I have her three books and can thoroughly recommend them. I also get regular newsletters from her website.

In the article which I’ve linked to, she lists plants that have survival food potential. I bet most average gardeners would know very few of them.

Interesting that she notes, amongst her recommendations for what to grow:

Plants that are little known as a food source and are unusual. If times get tough, and jobs and food are scarce, then food will be a high price in the shops and our gardens may be raided and food stolen… so… grow some obscure food supply.

Now, when I talk about gardens in the future being raided for food and that’s why I want to grow unusual, not-recognisable-as-food plants, I get funny looks from people! Nice to see others with the same thoughts!

Chooks Ho!!….update #9

July 4, 2011

In the last update I was thinking about landscaping within and around the chookyard. First off, a fruit tree, possibly a cherry. I looked at Louis Glowinski’s Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia and came up with a self-pollinating variety (because there wasn’t really room for two), called Stella. There was also a Compact Stella which sounded even better, but my local nursery only had the Stella. I also came home with a dwarf yellow-fruited nectarine, which will be planted in the food forest. Being a dwarf form, I’ll be able to net it easily against parrots and possums.

The Stella cherry in one corner of the yard. I’ve poked some nasturtium seeds in amongst the logs:

I plan to prune and shape it so that it spreads above the roof of the coop.

Down the far end of the yard, I sowed a small area of wheat and linseed. I reckon that if I protect it from the chooks until the seed heads are mature, then let them at it, they will enjoy picking the seeds out of the heads. Another experiment:

I still need to put the wire on that end of the yard.