Archive for June, 2015

Drying fruit

June 29, 2015

I’m sure most of my readers are familiar with Kirsten’s blog at Milkwood Permaculture, but just in case not, here’s her latest post on drying fruit. She uses the same brand of dryer as I do and I can definitely endorse her recommendations.

As usual, her post is full of useful information on techniques, tips and methods. Go take a look.

Here’s my dryer with a tray of red capsicum slices ready to go :


Where is everybody?

June 28, 2015

All on its own….the first asparagus of the season :


Another two in this spot, a skinny one and a fat one trying to hide beside a clump of Dianella :


This is the earliest they’ve ever appeared. It’s usually late July or August before they come up. I’m not complaining!

Also, the first yacon tuber of the season. Not a very big one…..there’s been too much competition for water and nutrient, because they were planted under a hungry tamarillo :


Not the first pepino of the season, but the most I’ve ever harvested in one go  :


On the chicken front, Clover is still laying, albeit only 2 or 3 a week, but still, I’ve never had a hen laying this far into winter before. Admittedly, some are funny pointy ones, a couple have dropped out at night and smashed on the floor of the coop, and one had only half a shell, but she’s trying. And 4-year-old Molly, who stopped laying and moulted in January, looks like she might lay again this spring and early at that. Her wattles and comb have reddened considerably, so that now I have to look twice to tell her apart from Clover. It would be nice to have eggs right through the year and not have to buy them at all in winter.

A year of solar

June 19, 2015

I thought some readers without PV solar (or even those with it), might be interested in the graph below, which is a daily record of the generation from my solar panels, for one complete year, from October 2013 to September 2014. Click on the image to enlarge it. (Note: the y-axis should read kW (kilowatts) not kWh (kilowatt hours).

The black dots represent readings for the first 6 months from October to March and the red dots the remaining 6 months, from April to September.

As expected, the summer months show higher readings than the winter months, but it is interesting to see the huge variability that can occur in the summer months, with some days being at least as bad as a typical winter’s day. Winter readings are much less variable, with pretty much all days, especially in June and July, being pretty lousy.

I love graphs…..another example of a picture being worth a thousand words.

And since this weekend marks the winter solstice and the shortest day, I can expect those little red dots on the current year’s graph to slowly start climbing again!



I can’t believe it’s June

June 13, 2015

Oops! I think I said that last month, when May rolled around. Is this the May Update then? Sort of. How about I roll it into June and then I won’t have to do a June update.

Despite reading other food-growing blogs and seeing how much winter work other people are doing, I haven’t done much at all in the last month to write about.

I did manage to cut back all the asparagus fern, mulched it up, put it back on the beds and fed them with blood and bone and dynamic lifter (chook poo compost gets reserved for the wicking boxes). My asparagus beds aren’t really ‘proper’ beds; I just planted groups of asparagus seedlings amongst other plants, in small gaps in the food forest. I wanted to have the feeling that I was harvesting spears from a forest landscape rather than a traditional garden bed (I also hoped that the rabbits wouldn’t find them so I wouldn’t have to put wire around them). And because of this and owing to not removing the berries from female plants, I now have extra seedlings dotted around that I didn’t plant. And other seedlings coming up in odd places, not in the food forest, like this one in a tub (which contains a blueberry), so it will be repotted and planted somewhere more suitable :


The tamarillo harvest is well down this year. The four main trees flowered well in spring, but were attacked by aphid-like insects and by the time I realised what was happening, most of the flowers had dropped off…so not a lot of fruit this year. I have only one plant of the yellow-fruited form and that was in a different spot so I’m getting some fruit from it and I have a half-dozen seedlings from last year’s fruit of that ready to plant, so I’m going to spread them around in the hope that if one gets a problem, they won’t all get it. The yellow variety is a bit sweeter than the red :


It looks orange here, but it really is yellow. Why doesn’t the camera see what I see?

This motley crew are about to be planted :


I’m selling plants at a local monthly market and these kale plants are waiting their turn to go. Red Russian and Lacinato. I sowed 2 seeds direct into each tube…that way the growth isn’t set back by pricking out and potting up :


I found two varieties of strawberry seeds at the local garden centre…an ordinary variety called Temptation and mixed seed of the red and white alpine variety. I’m thinking the alpine variety should do well at the market :


Egg-laying has tailed right off and tailed is the right word for it! This was the latest from Clover, the only one still laying :


The New Girls ended their first laying season of 13 weeks, producing 107 eggs between them, an average of about 8 per week. Clover is still producing a couple a week, but I’ve told her not to bother, since I’m not getting much benefit from her efforts. There’s not much point, I told her, if you’re not going to do it through the day and then it drops out of your rear end through the night and smashes on the floor, or if you could only manage to put half a shell on the next one, so that my thumb went right through it when I picked it up, but thanks anyway for the funny pointy one and I’m sure it’s going to be fine inside.

I have plenty of winter greens for the Girls. This is mizuna, direct seeded :


And this is corn salad, also direct seeded. The French call it mache. It has a beautiful buttery flavour when lightly steamed; almost too good to give to the chooks :


This kale plant is about ready for me to try a batch of kale chips :


This is is new variety of kale called Jagallo Nero. Nice lacy foliage :



I’m looking forward to the winter solstice in a bit over a week’s time, when the sun will start moving southwards again, and the days start to get longer. And tomato season will be on the horizon. Yay!