Dirty Hands and Urban Farming

We spent a superb sunny day in the garden at the weekend, planting seeds and preparing for future feasts.

By taking the time to grow our own veggies, we’ll be rewarded with nutrient dense, fresh, chemical free goodness that tastes amazing. Add the simple joy of being outdoors and getting my hands dirty, and I’m in heaven!

Strawberries

Strawberries

Our lovely Black Orpington and Light Sussex Hens spend their time industriously foraging, and they not only keep unwanted pests under control, they also provide our garden with valuable nutrients, our family with delicious eggs  and amuse us with their constant antics.

backyard chooks

We start by carting off the chook poo (manure) and biodynamic compost into the garden bed and mixing it well through the soil. Then some patience is required, as I like to let the soil rest for a week or so before planting. I don’t know if there’s any science behind this – and horticulturalists may scoff – but intuitively I like to let the chicken poo, compost and existing earth mix all settle together.

It gives us time to plan what we’re going to do with our new ‘blank canvas’ (you can read more about the importance of planning in this book review), and time to connect with the earth and respect nature.

WE took a short trip to Ceres (http://www.ceres.org.au/) where we purchased some seedlings and mulch. Dad had already given me some seeds he’d saved from previous crops, so with tools and gloves in hand we were set to go!

PreperationTo construct our garden bed dividers, pathways and stepping-stones we used red gum sleepers (untreated so our garden remains free from unwanted chemicals), as well as stones and logs. It’s important to plan ahead to allow for easy access (you may want to draw a plan first).

Pathway

 

 

 

 

 

We planted tomatoes and carefully supported them with untreated hardwood stakes, then planted basil, oregano and a variety of mint nearby which seems to work well as a natural pesticide.

P1060644CucumberP1050173 P1050340

We then planted beans and corn side by side, because the latter acts as a great support for the former.  We sowed carrot seeds, dug in lettuce, beetroot and fennel, and the strawberries we planted in various tubs around the garden.

P1050172 P1050138

I like to express some creativity when planting smaller plants like strawberries and herbs by using a variety of interesting containers.  Quirky garden ornaments can look beautiful and unique, I especially love this one and these too.

Artichoke

Finally we mulch (super important as it prevents evaporation, protects the soil and suppresses weeds. Mulch also supplies nutrients and organic matter to the soil, helping your veggies grow.), and water the garden well.

We then stand back and love that in almost no time we’ll reap the fruits of our labor (literally!).

    Blackberry Apple Blossom

If you haven’t tried it, urban farming is fun, sustainable and your soil will love you for your hard work and conviction.

Fuji Apples Eggplant

Producing clean food not only nourishes you, it cares for and connects you to the Earth. It’s a great family activity where children can learn and appreciate where food comes from. Watching children playing, picking and eating fresh fruit and veggies straight from the garden is incredibly rewarding. Every household would benefit from creating an urban garden; even the smallest space and budget can yield a tasty crop.

Strawberries ripening nicely. Granny Smith Apples

What’s in your garden? Have you planted something special this season?

Dividing Logs

Dividing logs

Quirky & Beautiful Garden

A little garden inspiration.

We just love these quirky garden ornaments. What do you think?

Tractor Garden

Garden Oasis

Red Tricycle

Do you have a garden piece you just love, or one you really want?

This one is also a favourite. x

A stroll in the garden and look at what we found……….

6 pm one mild Wednesday in November.

We took a stroll in our garden and look at what we found…

fairies and garden gnomes

First we looked down…

mushrooms

then we looked up…

our very first cherriescherries are ripe

One of our Black Orpington’s hoping to get some cherries. We love our Backyard hens, if you love chickens you should take a peek at this too.

having a peck

Have you had a wonder in your garden? What have you found? You may be surprised. x

Recipe: Biodynamic Compost

Recipe: Biodynamic Compost

Ingredients:

Cow manure, hay, pea straw, fresh garden clippings (no oxalis), dry garden clippings (not branches/twigs), food scraps, lime and Biodynamic Kit* – (prep ball and drops).

Image

*The Biodynamic preparation kits are available for members from Biodynamics Victoria and are prepared with minerals and plants according to Rudolf Steiner’s philosophies. They contain Yarrow, Chamomile, Horn Manure, Silica, Stinging Nettle, Valerian, Oak Bark and Dandelion.

Tools:

Hose connected to tap, gloves, garden boots, garden fork & shovel, bucket, wheelie bin, hat.

Image

Prep:

Mark out a square (about 1m x 1m is ample for most households) in flat earth (not on grass) facing North – South.

The square will be made with a hay centre, which you’ll construct like a tent so it’s hollow underneath, and with two sides made up of the other greens laid flat.

It should be square and the sides kept compact.

It will take 3-4 months before you have complete nourishing compost.

  1. The Slurry: Fill ¼ of your wheelie bin with cow manure, and top with water.  Stir well.
  2. Make a row with some of the hay to create a tunnel/tent all the way across the centre of your square. The underneath should be hollow to create heat, which keeps rodents away and helps everything decompose.

Image

3.   Add pea straw to both sides of your tent, keeping within the square. Make sure the pea straw is nice and flat, and then put some slurry on top.

4.  Sprinkle lime over the slurry on the pea straw, which helps hold in the nitrogen and water.

5.  Repeat step 3. Water.

6.  Check the perimeter and “bash” the sides with the back of shovel to make it more compact. It should be looking nice and square. Keep the centre tunnel exposed.

Image

7.  Pile up the sides with lots of green clippings until they reach the peak of the hay (the tent).

8.  Add a layer of lime and hay to the top. Keep checking that sides are compact and “bash” with shovel if needed.  We’re trying to create a tight, even, square so that when it breaks down, it will break down and collapse evenly.

9.  Add more slurry, water and top up with garden clippings (green weeds etc).

Image

10. Add a layer of hay to the entire lot (it’s probably about 50cm high now).

11. Add slurry and water well then top up with more garden greens.

12. Fill bucket with water and stir with your hand to create a vortex and add drops (from biodynamic kit).  Change the direction of your vortex by stirring the other way. Keep this up for 10-15 minutes.  This is where children come in handy…and they love it!

Image

Image

13.  Water the compost very well and add a layer of food scraps on top (these can be fresh or composted) and sprinkle with lime.

Image

14. Add a layer of hay (it should now be about 70cm high).

15. Water and continually pack the sides so it remains firm around the edges and is square. This will help it break down evenly.

16. Add the prep balls (from biodynamic kit). Place around the sides and centre. Top with slurry and add a layer of green clipping.

Image

Image

17. At this point you need to keep layering as you have been until all you used up all your greens and hay. Keep adding slurry, water in between layers and always check that the sides are firm and the top is even in height all around so that it will break down nice and even.

Image

18.Enjoy your healthy nourishing soil.

** ImageThank you to Celia for sharing her knowledge, enthusiasm and hard work biodynamic composting at Sophia Mundi’s garden. Celia is from Australia Biodynamics – Victoria Inc. For membership and courses: phone 03 59629349 http://www.biodynamicsvictoria.org/

Industriously Foraging

Industriously Foraging

Garden Oasis

Garden Oasis

A spectacular garden oasis at The Summit in Vanuatu, where meandering pathways provided creative surprises.

%d bloggers like this: