Monday, September 10, 2012

Still Growing

It's been a bit wet lately, as it often is this time of year as the weather systems draw moisture from hurricanes and tropical storms. Leslie is going to miss us but has still given us 125mm of rain in the last 24 hours. So I'm busy working on drying onions and preserving tomatoes. Indoor work is good on a rainy day. We bit the bullet and got some black poly that farmers use for their plantings and are going to try using it in our Autumn garden for both weed suppression and to warm the soil on cool days. That in combination with a poly tunnel should give us a few more weeks of cool weather growing. The greenhouse still does not have the end walls on so that's something we'll need to do before the month is out. It's still doing well with tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and melons etc. but I want to get the next lot of crops started so how do I do that if the ground is in use? Simple...start seedlings in flats, just like you'd do in the spring. It's also a good way to do it when the weather is wet and you just don't want to be slogging through a muddy garden.

Our main garden has now got lots of field (dry) beans maturing and they look very impressive. It was a packet of Jacob's Cattle beans we bought from the store and planted into a 50 foot row as an experiment. Well, I'm happy to announce that our 1 lb bag of beans has made beautifully healthy plants bearing hundreds of beans each so if we can get them all matured and dried we'll call it a success. We also have the next batch of green beans ready for picking so this week I'll take Kate out and pick some. She is our queen of beans but sometimes picks them too old and stringy so we're going to pick together this time. Pumpkins are beginning to turn orange in the garden and we have some zucchini to harvest too. Please ignore the weeds in the pics, we later pulled them out :) And the fence is lowered down because we tilled over the garden in preparation for planting this week.

The strawbale garden idea, remember that? Well it eventually took off and now the tomatoes that were clinging to life have re-rooted themselves, flowered and are looking promising. I'm going to put fall lettuce in the other side this week and see how they do. It's another experiment that worked but here are some tips. Next time I'd leave the bales to decompose longer, perhaps starting them earlier in the year. Initially they don't hold much water and if the weather is hot it's hard to keep them moist, but once they're decomposing they hold a lot more water. We didn't have a weed problem at all, just a few mushrooms which we left alone. Would I do this again? Absolutely if for no other reason than we used them to anchor down the greenhouse plastic and they worked a charm!

The poly tunnel greenhouse is currently home to eggplant (with the purple flowers), melons, English cucumbers and tomatoes. The melons have pretty much stopped flowering but the other plants are still going strong so as long as they're flowering and it's warm enough, they'll keep producing. You can see the tiny cucumbers with flowers still attached, aren't they adorable? I have dry hay under the eggplants to keep the fruit off the ground but the cucumbers are growing up a wire so they're ok without the mulch. I ripened the melons on upside down clay pots to keep them off the ground and away from slugs.

Our next batch of chicks comes in a couple of days, both meat birds and next year's layers. The big hens are all laying but with the shorter days it's almost time to put a light in their coop for them. The light has 2 benefits, it's like a beacon in the evening saying 'come to bed' and the light fools them into laying in the winter instead of going through a molt and ceasing to lay. We've always just used a simple bulb and timer to have the light increase in the morning from 6-9am and then in the evening for a couple of hours. I've used solar lights before and they can work but a simple 40 or 60 watt bulb works great too and provides a little heat in the winter. We're debating about building a new winter coop and having it out at the property with the sheep. I'll let you know what we decide.

Another thought lately has been that rather than buying a mobile home and living in it temporarily while we build, maybe we'll get an RV and put that out there. It would save us the cost of moving (we got a quote for moving a mobile home and it was $2600 not including the permits) plus we could always resell the RV when done. It's a thought, we haven't made any plans yet. Still waiting for our tax refund and family allowance to get straightened out which will be at the end of October hopefully.

With the wet weather this week it's been a good reminder to get the firewood covered up. It's going to be warm and sunny for the rest of the week once this weather moves out overnight which will dry the wood again, then it's time to stack it indoors and in the garage. If the boys can get it all cut to length then I'll help the girls stack it.

All Photos taken in our garden or poly tunnel greenhouse Sept 7th, 2012.

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