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Friday, October 18th, 2002
12:31 pm - Ceredwyn writes: Wind!
Normally I enjoy the spring winds that come - the equinoxial gales. However, when trying to keep plants and greenhouses intact, they become an utter menace.

I went out to water our plants. With the warmer weather, they're prone to wilting extremely quickly. The tomatoes in particular, since they are now all quite tall with a lot of green leaf on them - and in some cases small green tomatoes. The first two strawberry plants are quite large now, and have begun to bear. Another two strawberries to eat tonight...

The bok choi have simply been eaten alive by...something. Who knows what? It isn't snails or slugs. Perhaps it would be better to grow them indoors now. The lettuces have come up, as have the amaranth...or chrysanthemums. I'm not sure which. And the snow peas do not like the current heat...

But back onto the greenhouse. This morning part of the tomato one had ripped away. When I opened it to water them, the wind caught it, tore it, and smacked me in the face with the upright. Ah, wonderful. One side of it ruined.

I opened the other, and exactly the same thing happened. Only this time I stood on a brick as I staggered backwards, then on a nail. So now the greenhouse awaits repair, unable to be closed, and having tasted blood. Damnit.

current mood: sore

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Sunday, September 29th, 2002
6:53 pm - Keith writes... of more strawberries.
Well 'tis evening and all though the house bone-weary fingers can barely clutch a mouse.
Today was the big day for getting stuff done on the garden. For me the construction of greenhouse number 2 (bigger, bolder, better than before)
The required that I spend the morning jarring bits of myself as I disassembled a couple of shipping pallets for their timber. Then a moments drilling and the realisation that I'd forgotten to get washers for the bolts. While this was going on, Ceredwyn was busy potting out snow peas, (2 per pot, 10 per 8 plant punnet, Oh well, drill another pot, we're not taking them back :) She also got a large pot (once inhabited by a now rose) and set it up full of edible Chrysanthemums and Amaranth. Tatsoi were planted out into another tray, and everything was given it's first taste of liquid seaweed fertiliser.
Finally, a lot of wandering Jew was squashed into a garbage can and covered with water to begin the process of becoming more fertiliser.
Then it was time to go out. The need for washers drove us back to Bunnings where I also picked up one more Strawberry and two Lemon Thyme to grow in the remaining holes in the strawberry pot. A little more shopping, then home and back to work.
So now at the end of the day, everything we had planned, (and some things we hadn't) are planted out. The new greenhouse structure is complete, and all that remains is to put some simple framing up to attach the plastic outer to. Then there will be a new home for tomatoes, and everything else.
A detail worth remembering. Even an unusually high gap between shelves isn't enough when you're putting tall plants in big pots onto them. In the new greenhouse, the bottom shelf is almost at ground level, and the next one at nearly eye level. Much more useful for taller plants on the bottom shelf, and for small trays (that will appreciate a warm environment even more) on the top.

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Saturday, September 28th, 2002
9:10 pm - Keith write... of potting mix and herbs
Well that's two more tasks complete.
A trip to the supermarket brought back more potting mix and a pair of bases for the ceramic planters. A brief flurry of activity later and the planter was filled with herbs. The parsley was so dense in it's pot that I split it in two, leaving 8 clumps of herbs.
Around the edge there is (clockwise) Parsley, Oregano, Chives, Parsley, Sage, Basil, and Thyme, and in the middle is the Lemon Grass.
And now having eaten dinner I've gone back and rescued two different types of Lavender from pots that it seems were a whisker too small. Both pots were lined completely by roots.
Anyway, this means now the only tasks are the construction of greenhouse number 2 and the potting up of the snowpeas. Well, those and putting some tubing over the tops of the cut plastic icecream containers so the pot-prize tomato doesn't lacerate itself on the sharp edge.
If all goes well, tommorow will see the bigger greenhouse completed.

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6:37 pm - Ceredwyn writes of...loot!
Today, there was much lootage on the Pangaean gardening front. Indeed, seldom have two people looted so strongly and for such a good cause.

The primary cause of joy for the Keith half of our dynamic duo was the finding of a large and probably mislabeled ceramic strawberry pot. This necessitated buying rather more strawberries than we had been envisaging, but, frankly, is there such a thing as too many strawberries? Ha, I think not!

So in the pot we now have five immature (stop that, I heard that) red gauntlet runners who will likely be thanking their deity for sunlight, two healthy red gauntlet plants, two hokawase (apparently sweet, low acid), and two of something else, one of which purports to fruit all season around.

We also now have a big black garbage bin which will be used to make fertiliser for the garden out of the wandering jew. Ha! I torment thee, wandering jew! Once cut back far enough, we might even find our worm farm. Keith is full of confidence that they still live under there, I sort of doubt it.

Other loot includes eight snow pea seedlings, which will be planted two per pot, and a huge range of herbs. Off the top of my head, I think we're looking at chives, parsley, sage, lemon grass, thyme, basil and oregano. All will be whacked into one large and handsome ceramic pot and will live on the sunny spot in the kitchen table to be admired and occasionally nibbled.

The mesculin mix of lettuce went into its pot. and is now planted. Hopefully this will yield a good, broad wide pot of non-hearting lettuces for us to use in various salads. This will also live indoors, since it will require fairly constant care, and will be eaten on a regular basis.

Two pots of two different types of lavender were acquired to attract bees and...because we like lavender.

current mood: busy

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Friday, September 27th, 2002
3:27 pm - Ceredwyn writes...more planting and repotting.
After a late night last night, an hour or two on the garden seemed appropriate. One of the benefits to having the vegetable garden right near the back door is the ease with which one can go out and commence weeding and caretaking. To be honest, the weeding is not very difficult due to the pot scheme, although we do still get every pot full of young shoots. This is likely because of the organic garden mulch from our own garden.

Still, I did a number of jobs today that I had been putting off for one reason or another. Perhaps hangovers are motivational.

One snowpea is looking brilliant, the other one is struggling a little. I threw the rest of the sprouting snowpea mix away, as it looked and smelled dodgy. The tomatoes are huge, the strawberries fruiting, the carrots up and the radishes looking well. Excellent!

Jobs done:

Repotting
  • Repotting the leek seedlings into larger pots in the hopes of having them grow to a decent size. Seven are in standard pots, two are in the edges of the radish bed, mostly because I ran out of room.
  • Repotted the borage plant. At least, the thing that I hope is the borage plant. The seeds were very old, so it could be something else, but it looks appropriately fuzzy.


Moving
  • Moved two of the tomato plants out from under the protection of the greenhouse. This worries me, but they are too tall for any level now, and were beginning to get damaged leaves and flowers from pressing on the plastic. I have put them in as sheltered position as I could find, on the steps next to the greenhouse.
  • The bok choi in pots have been moved from the kitchen windowsill into the greenhouse outside on the bottom level. There are eight of them.
  • The newly potted leeks now enjoy a position in the greenhouse on the top level.


Planting
  • One new row of radishes in the second row of what used to be our rabbit tray.
  • One new row of carrots in the final row of the big black container
  • More bok choi seeds, which have been put inside the mini greenhouse Keith made for me on the windowsill.
  • Cress! I have made a sort of weird makeshift pot out of some leftover takeaway containers and planted cress in one side. Mustard to follow in four days in the other.


Planning for this weekend
  • A second greenhouse, also made of castoff wood, constructed by the wonderful Keith. It makes me feel good to reuse what others have thrown away, whether it be wood or plant pots or anything else.
  • Plant the tatsoi, edible chrysanthemums, Mr stripey tomatoes, and the amaranth.
  • Buy some more strawberry plants and an appropriate strawberry pot. The simple fact is that we both love strawberries and can consume vast amounts, so there's no problem with spending money on them. Also, buy some snowpea plants. Yes, raising two of our own was good, but two is not really enough to feed us. About eight is good for two people.
  • But a very wide, shallow planter for my indoor lettuces. I have quite a range of non-hearting lettuce varieties, and a wide bowl will allow me to grow them indoors on the table so that fresh salad is always available.
  • We have a mixture of organic sprouts - Keith will be doing the muslin and jam jars thing with them.
  • Get the worm farm properly back in action so that our fertiliser is as clean of toxins as possible.


Looking at all of this, I feel strange. This was only supposed to be an experiment with a couple of tomato plants - suddenly it is beginning to look as though we can actually have a shot at having a considerable amount of our own food home grown in a nearly chemical-free environment. And - I don't know how this has worked - almost nothing is predating upon our vegetables! The odd snail gets thrown onto the roof, and we don't suffer from anything else.

I am feeling excessively bouncy as a result.

current mood: happy

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Wednesday, September 18th, 2002
4:25 pm - Keith writes: Blown away...
Well I wonder if the garden will still exist by the time we get home tonight.
I think a quick detour home may be needed to make sure everything is secured. Supposedly we can expect winds up to 100+ km/h (one somewhat misguided individual tried to assure me that 200 knots was predicted. If so I want to get to a basement somewhere sturdy! (that'd be 370+ km/h!)
Oh well. Good luck tomatoes.

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Tuesday, September 17th, 2002
8:19 pm - Ceredwyn writes:
Right, today!

We did quite a bit of work on the garden. I've been weeding our tomatoes, which are all gratifyingly tall, and almost all of which are now flowering. Much to my surprise the strawberries have on one plant gone beyond flowering and towards actual berries. They seem rather enthusiastic. We are contemplating how many berries one gets per plant and if it would not be rather wiser to invest in a few more.

Planted out were the bok choi, the snow peas (yeah, all two of them), and a tray of Warrigul greens. I'd really prefer to be growing a lot more Australian native species, but they're a little hard to find and I've not really got the cash for ordering in via catalogue. Warrigul greens are something of a spinach substitute - I've had them before wrapped around mild soft brie cheese inside slices of rare-cooked wallaby. Very pleasant. We obtained the seed from the extremely generous Adam and Karen of Saki Computing, who deluged me in various seeds when they found out what we were doing. So I have seed for edible chrysanthemums, 'mr stripey' tomatoes to accompany my other stripey tomatoes, amaranth (I can grow the food of life!) and two different types of pumpkin.

The radishes are coming up - and so are the snails. Onto the shed roof with them, to the delight of the magpies! The leeks are about four centimeters tall and soon I will have to work out how the hell to transplant such delicate plants.

One borage plant seems to have sprouted, and one mint. Bah. That doesn't show very much enthusiasm. The oregano hasn't moved at all - and neither have any of our baby carrots. Not enough time in the ground? Too cold? Too damp, too dry? Who knows. Ah well, it's all experimental.

I brought some commercial seed as well today - mustard greens, cress, a random lettuce type mix because I like salads and I'm lazy, and some tatsoi to join in with our other stir fry-type greens. Although now that I've double checked just how bloody huge tatsoi get I'm not quite sure where to put them. Our greenhouse looks like it will be gradually extended up the side of the house and Keith is getting the worm farm back into operation so that we don't have to pay for fertiliser. Cheap, cheap! Do everything on the cheap! That's our current motto.

Was rather chuffed to hear Karen describe our setup as permaculture-like. It wasn't really designed with permaculture in mind although we would love to set up something like that. But a lot of the basics of permaculture are to do with easy maintenance, and our system is very easy to work with and is labour-cheap once the initial work is done. So all is fairly good.

Perhaps with my next pay I'll look at buying a cumquat in a pot. Bounce!

current mood: accomplished

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Friday, September 6th, 2002
1:14 pm - Ceredwyn writes...
Well! The snow peas appear to be sprouting after all! Miracles can happen.

The cat, however, wreaked her vengeance on the basil seeds and they are all deceased. After splattering some onto the floor, she attempted to eat the rest. Brilliant, Jara.

What I thought were the bok choi all sprouted, coming up brilliantly. However, I thinned them today and after a while noticed that my hands smelled like food. Like nice food. Like...garlic.

I have a sneaking suspicion those are the leeks now...

current mood: accomplished

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Tuesday, September 3rd, 2002
8:49 am - Ceredwyn writes...
The greenhouse took a bit of damage in high winds yesterday, tearing some of the black plastic tape. It is now weighted down by some roses in pots at the front. There are vague plans to add more plastic on the corners and rope it down.

On the good side, the pot prize tomatoes are looking extremely healthy, growing an amazing amount each day. Much more so than when we had similar beasties in the ground a couple of years ago. The heirlooms are also looking strong.

I suspect the strawberries are going to flower while they're small anyway, regardless of my vague hope that they would build up a decent collection of leaves first. Oh well. They will just need to be fed appropriately.

A wooden pallet, somewhat dubiously acquired, will mean another structure, that the tomatos will be gradually moved to as they get larger. This will allow for possibly another set of snowpeas, which would be good, and also means I will have room for capsicums. Apparently squash do well in pots, which certainly surprises me, but I am willing to try it.

Alas, it appears that the old snowpea and sweet basil seeds really are too old to be used. After a week under damp tissue there are no signs of germination at all, and by now with the snow peas I wouldn't be horribly surprised if they'd already have shoots, let alone be actually begining to crack open. It's a trip back to the store for fresh seeds for me.

Evil plans are being made to rip up a chunk of the wandering jew (horrible stuff), dump it in a plastic tub, preferably black, cover it with water and cook it until it turns into nutrient mush outside in the sun. It will then be sacrificed to the plants we actually like. Mwhahaha! I'd like to get some nettles for this as well, but nettles don't last long in our property because we actually, well, use and eat them. A pity that Gothic Gardening does not have more edible suggestions. I wonder how many black vegetables I can grow...

current mood: amused

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Sunday, September 1st, 2002
7:21 pm - Keith writes...
Well that's another useful round of vegetating.
Today has seen two large tubs set up for root crops.
The first (a 75 x 45 x 30 cm tub) has been drilled, and filled to the brim with the lovely soil from under the compost heap. I hope 28cm will be enough depth for the carrots, as that's all they've got to work with. We've divided it in half, and in three weeks, we'll plant the second row of carrots down the other side. If all goes well, we'll have... well, I guess we'll have carrots. Somehow I can't see this single tub fulfilling our carrot needs for the next year, now matter how well we stagger the crops.
The other tub (an old rabbit tray is closer to 1m x 60cm but is only 15-20cm deep, so it's been divided into 3 beds for radishes. These will go in every fortnight, and I won't be so surprised if we have all the radishes we can eat.
The other task for the day has been in the micro-greenhouse. This humidicrib for seedlings is actually a 10 litre water bottle left over from camp. Cut off at the right height, it makes a good tray for all the punnets of seedlings. So we can guess which is which, here is the layout...
Punnet Layout

Anyway, all in all a good day. If all goes well, tonight I'll manage to get another pallet to make more shelves from. Then we can add green house #2

current mood: relaxed

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Saturday, August 31st, 2002
5:33 pm - Ceredwyn writes...
Today - more garden-based therapy. Gave into temptation and went to 'just have a look' at some seeds and seedlings. Came home with booty, including four heirloom tomatoes. One black Russian, one mortgage lifter, one tigerella and one green zebra.

Also brought another strawberry plant, which has been put in a gorgeous ceramic pot we had knocking around. This one is a perennial as well, and apparently very prolific. I am looking forward to the odd strawberry - I'd make preserves, as I intend to do with the tomatoes, but enough strawberries surviving for rendering? In this house? Not a chance. They will be enjoyed off the plant in quick bites. Am hoping for enough produce in general so we can give some to friends.

Discovered a short, sweet carrot variety, and we will plant them with some small, fast bearing radishes. For what was supposed to be 'just an experiment with some tomatos' this is turning into a miniature greenhouse full of food. I am actually rather gratified - there is something sublimely pleasurable in doing this. Plans also include small leeks and snow peas grown up the outside of the greenhouse for extra shade and because both Brandt and I will eat them raw off the vine quite happily.

We dug the bottom out of the mulch pile that we throw the bunny hay onto. 'We' being Brandt as I tried to get through the bed of weeds and gave up like a pathetic girl. What came out was black, sweet-smelling and incredibly rich. Felt pleased that bunnies are doing their share for the garden, and brought in some of our half wild nasturtium flowers for them, which they enjoyed.

current mood: calm

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Friday, August 30th, 2002
5:30 pm - Ceredwyn writes...
After checking on the three tomatos and one strawberry plant, I was pleased with all but the dwarf tomato - the other three plants have shot up quite pleasingly and are looking healthy. The dwarf seems a little scraggly, but it is possible that is the nature of the beast. I gave them a little fertiliser (rose, unfortunately) and watered them. On my next payday, I'll be buying another two strawberry plants and a black russian tomato plant. Keith and I have not quite decided how to do the rest of the strawberries - he says they will stay happilly in the side of a plastic tub with holes knocked in and mesh on top, but I'm not certain what will happen when they start fruiting.

Decided to sprout my sweet basil and snowpea seeds on the windowsill instead. After having put them on damp tissue, arranged them to my satsfaction, and gotten myself a breakfast drink from the fridge, I returned to the computer.

current mood: cheerful

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Sunday, August 25th, 2002
5:21 pm - Planting!
Today planted the following:

  • Two 'pot prize' tomatos in large white ex-icecream containers.

  • One 'tumbler' tomato in the same.

  • One 'sweetest' strawberry in a vaguely attractive 'look, I'm pretending to be ceramic' plastic pot.



The tomatos are roughly 10 cm tall, and reasonably vigorous, although the 'tumbler' is a little more sprawly. We carefully selected a strawberry that was not already trying to flower.

Keith constructed a pot holding frame from an old packing crate. We used a standard potting mix in the pots, and covered the top with a little bark. Semi clear plastic sheeting was used to cover the top of the makeshift greenhouse.

current mood: bouncy

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