Sunday, May 24, 2009

How times change...

Tyres arranged and filled with seed potatoes

When I first came out here with my family I was determined to keep on recycling or reusing as much as possible as I had in the previous house. I felt that being out here in a rural setting though would give me alot more incentive to do the right thing.

I was also looking forward to putting more vegie and fruit gardens down and was really hoping alot of others did the same so there could be some sort of bartering going on. I looked forward to the cooking and the preserving and water bathing of goodies that I would pick up along the way from farmers out here that were getting rid of glut. I had alot of grand ideas that everything would happen alot quicker than it actually has.

We have been out here now for 1.5 years and we have our vegie gardens going. I have 5 rows going as well as over 30 old tyres that I got from Tyre shops and friends for growing potatoes. That area is together, electric fenced off because of the cows. There is another fence around the garden beds but that has over time been trampled down by my calf. The garden beds are about 100 metres away from the house.

The orchard has olives, blueberries, red apple, green apple, mango, orange, lemon, mandarin, fig and fijoa trees in it at the moment and more will come in the winter. This is also electric fenced off and down the front of the property.

The problem I find with the vegie garden is that it is too far away. I can't get it closer to the house but not getting there every single day means that at the moment the mice are having a field day out there. The are eating my strawberries, beans, zucchini, carrots, you name it. Nothing has a chance. I feel rather disappointed by it all. We had really bad soil brought in last season and basically had to forget anything growing in there. There was more broken pottery, crockery and glass in it than anything else. Never again from that place... So new soil has been brought in that is so much better.

I don't really know how to combat the mice problem as they are everywhere at the moment. I had 20 lots of tyres going at one stage but because of the poor soil that we had at the time all the potatoes where either eaten by mice or they ended up very small. Hence nothing to barter with or give away for that matter.

I have made a heap of orange marmalade from a ladies tree in the village where she didn't want the fruit. I have given most of that away. Same with Plum jam that I made middle of last year. Just this week gone I made Onion marmalade for the first time and ended up with 1 x 36 VC jar, 14 x 31 VC Jars and some other containers full of them as they will not last long. I must admit for a first timer at this one I don't think I did too bad. They will be mostly kept for Christmas presents.

I have found that having chickens and now milk that I have had visitors wanting to barter which I find wonderful. Not many around here grow their own gardens and I have spoken to a friend before about setting up a community garden??? Maybe that will get people involved more? Time will tell...

I must say one of the best 'deals' that we got was when I was asked for eggs and the next day we ended up with a jar of honey from the man's bee hives... What a treat and we all agree that it tastes soooo much better than the store bought stuff. I can't wait till spring when I have arranged for our own to come here. We will probably have two of the honeybees and maybe two or three of the Australian native stingless bees. I love those critters. Difference is honeybees give you about 75kg per year where as the other only about 1kg per year. Though they are alot smaller. Must give them a break!

So at this point I give away what I can and know that people love it. It warms my heart to know that they enjoy it. I do hope I overcome my issues though with the vegie gardens as I really want to produce everything that we need but need to do alot more research...

Cheers Damaris

1 comment:

Ann at eightacresofeden said...

It all takes time and each gardener has his own problems to contend with. It is so frustrating to lose all your crops to pests. We moved our main veggie garden to be nearer the house and I am pleased we did. Down in the old veggie patch which has a lot of shade the pumpkins are running rampant. All my salad leaves, beetroot, garlic etc are now in our raised beds. I have netting over one which has stopped the bandicoot getting in. The mice sound like a real problem... no snakes around? We get mice and rats in the house but never in the veggie gardens, we do have a cat and she catches some. A friend of ours has a tunnel house for growing her veggies in and we are thinking of setting one up for tomatoes at some stage, as we lost so many to pests last summer. By the way, have you heard about the problems of using old tyres and cadmium leaching? I read about it on the down to earth blog, I do not know that much about the problems i.e how much would actually get into the soil to cause a problem but we decided to use a wire enclosure instead but our crop failed - too wet I think! Hope you do find some success with your veggies, once you find what grows well you can grow that in abundance. All the best with your efforts and I look forward to reading about how things go for you on your little patch of heaven!