Thursday, December 9, 2010

Potato Harvest

I've harvested the potatoes from the root bed now.  They were attacked by a swarm of 20 spotted (??) lady bugs.  I didn't actually realise they were a pest.  I understood that ladybugs ate aphids so i was happy to have them.  However this is a variety of lady bug that eats leaves.  Their lavae were dining quite well by the time i realised what was happening.  Considering the time they had been in ground, and not the lack of leaves, I decided to pull the up and I was pleased with the result compares to my other attempts.  I got probably 1-2kgs of potatoes from probably 500g of seed potatoes.  Considering the soil is still too dense I am happy with that.  I've plated one more crop for summer and will harvest in 3-4 months all going well....

So the chronology:

Mid Sep - been in about 2 weeks and were starting to shoot through soil so mulched over the top
Mid Sep - been in about 2 weeks and were starting to shoot through soil so mulched over the top 
Mid Oct - nice green growth, peas are gone, concerned too much nitrogen and not enough fertiliser for the tuber growth

Mid Oct

I didn't get to take a shot of the pest damage but its firmly etched in my heres the early Dec harvest result.  I'm happy with the taste too :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Potato Bag Experiment

In May I set up a hessian bag with some manure, compost and potting mix and planted a few pontiac potatoes I had been given.  I've since turned my planned root bed into mainly a potatoe bed for this season, and ll i can say of potatoes is plant them and they will grow.  But back to the bag.
Here is the inital set up with the wire to keep the dog out.  I had supports underneath to raise the back to help with drainage.

As the plant grew i added more compost and manure, but i think it would have been better to just add cane mulch or similar. (Jun2010)

July 2010:
In the process I had a problem with the bottom of the bag rotting away and the soil all coming out.  This may also have been due to the mice that turned up.  They were burrowing holes in the soil.  I ened up catching 5 mice in total using a humane trap that tilts when they go in and the trap door shuts.  I released 2 in the forest and unfortunately the other 3 died in the holding tank I had them in until i could get back to the forest.  Was probably a Co2 overdose.  The other two had survived fine with the air gap I had provided but the extra mouse must have tipped the scales.

After a number of the pants had died back I dug the plant up in august.  I was concerned about the vermin issue so i wanted to get rid of it.  there where a few small new potatoes but nothing great.  all in all the soil was still too damp and i suspect too dense.

In Sep I planted some certified seed potatoes in Bed 1.

I had planned carrots in between the potatoe rows but the mulch has excluded them now

In 1 month they are flourishing

Well I'm Learning

So it's now the end of Oct and over the last 6 months i've learnt a lot from trial and error.  Let's see what I've been up to. My biggest learning was the impact of low sun hours and the low angle of the sun.  My backyard is bounded by high hedgerows and retaining walls and in winter the number of sunhours falling on the beds was probably between 1 and 4.  Much too low to grow crops.  My root bed suffered the most here and I did get some small carrots from it but pretty much every thing else did not grow.

You can see how little growth in the root bed:



I harvested the carrots late June as I'd got annoyed looking at them and heres the result.  The soil was too clay and poor also and that did not help.  They tasted good though.  You can see a potatoe plant in the bottom left corner of the bed.  This was an experiment with a sebago to see what would happen.  The new potatoes I got from the plant is show with the carrots.

  Next winter I will simply so green manure into this bed or a crop of shade loving veges if i can find some. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lettuce, Flowers and seeds

Lettuce are a filler crop that you can pretty much plant in any vacant spot in your vege garden that gets some reasonable sunlight.  They're easy to grow from always make sure you prepare the soil well with blood and bone and lots of nitrogen and just stick them in, water in with seaweed fertiliser (repeat that every two weeks I suggest) and then just harvest the leaves as you need to once they grow a bit.

I've grown lettuce successfully from seedlings and until a little while back it didn't even occur to me to grow them from seed.  Then I realised that if you let a lettuce go and dont pick it, you'll get a head of flowers and then behold! seeds!  Well it's taken a good 2 months but patience pays off....I have started harvesting the seeds of my lettuce flowers...I think it's a coral lettuce.  Its in the bottom left of the bed in the photo below

Here are a couple of close ups of the flower heads and the flowers and the seeds.  They have a nice small yellow flower and then it goes to a cotton type ball of fluff which the seeds attache to.  My method of getting the seeds is to pick the fluffy flow heads and hold the base of the flower where the seeds are and then pick off the fluff.  The i roll the flower in my fingers upside down over a paper envelope and the seeds fall out into that.  I sowed a few into some seed raising tubs tonight so will see how they go....

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A nice haul for the morning

In an attempt to beat the pests to the fruit I picked a cabbage (baby), couple of eggplants, peas (that were sold to me as snow peas :0 and a bowl full of chillis.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Solar Fountain Project

When we first bought the house in 2004 the previous owner had a nice big concrete pot/pond/water feature with gold fish and a DC powered fountain pump.  It didn't take too long for our dog to destroy the pump cabling and the fountain arrangements.  The pot survived and I tried various things over time but mainly what worked was just gold fish.

With the revamp of the backyard and a bit of know how under my belt, I decided to try again.  The pot had started to leak so I had to seal it up.  I used some non toxic Grit51 (or 52).  Not the best colour but it works (i think - still waiting to really see).

With 2 weeks to cure I set about getting a reasonable solar power ELV pump.  I found a good looking one on ebay and it inlcuded an LED ring to light the water at night.  Got it for $60 which I thought was great.
My plan was to install the panel on the side of the adjacent house wall facing the north and run the cable across my solarspan awning down to the controller in flex conduit.  I knew the cable to the solar panel would not be long enough, but was prepared for it.


We had some left over flex conduit from installing mum and dads auto swing gate opener (blog article to come).  When it came to the crunch, it seemed like a whole lot of work for a fountain.  So I decided a south west facing solar panel may be useable (maybe not so much in winter but I'll deal with that when the time comes).  So in a moment of realisation that things can be done perfectly and expensively or they can be done close enough to perfect with some trade offs, I installed the panel on the ground right next to the fountain.

So its up and working and I'm happy with the result.  I've temporarily sealed the ends of the conduits with electrical tape but will have to seal them properly once the weather fines up.  I'm not 100% happy with the position or fixing of the controller to the awning post but there's not really another option for mounting it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

My Three Bed Rotation Plan

 Okay so it's not perfect.  I've only got room for three beds to do a rotation so this is my plan.


Now Legum Bed peas/beans

2010 Autum Legum Bed peas/beans

Wint Brassica cab/broc/warrigal greens

Spring Brassica cab/broc/warrigal greens

Sum Root Crop carrots/parsnips/potatoe onions

2011 Autum Root Crop onions/beets/sweded

Wint Legume Bed peas/beans

Spring Legume Bed peas/beans

Sum Brassica cab/broc/warrigal greens

Brassica cab/broc/warrigal greens


Root Cropcarrots
Root Croponions/beets/sweded
Root Crop

Legume Bed

Legume Bed



Root Crop
Root Crop

Legume Bed
Legume Bed
Root Crop
Root Crop

Essentially I have a bed with cabbage and peas/beans at the moment (BED 1).  Once the beans and peas are dont late winter I am guessing, I will take advantage of the nitrogen the beans and peas have pumped INTO the soil and plant more brassicas (cabbage and broc etc).  The beans and peas will then move to Bed 3 which at the moment is not really being used but for some lettuce at times.  Bed 2 is my root bed.  I have sown carrots, swedes, leaks and some garlic bulbs and they have already sprouted.  I'll also plant Onions in there in winter.  When the current Bed2 is harvested the peas and beans will move in and so the cycle goes.

I'll probably invest in an extra bed at some point but walk before run I say....

Bed 1 is looking pretty good.  Planted and sown late Jan I already have beans!

Bed 2 Was sown about 2 weeks ago and the root veges have sprouted already:

Bed 3 - well maybe another time :P