Thursday, 18 November 2010

Garden waste mulch update

A few weeks ago I posted bout using unwanted veg/plants gone over etc as a soil conditioner / mulch, and I wanted to give you an update because I'm so impressed with the results.

Just a reminder - I used our electric mulcher to mulch up old / gone to seed vegetable matter that the chickens don't eat  (eg turnips, carrots, broccoli stems) to add back into the garden beds. I dug in the chopped up veg matter, gave a water and covered with mulch - this year pea straw/sugar cane mulch.

This week I peeled back the mulch to take a look at a few of the beds and I was amazed at the worm activity. The soil was still lovely and moist, and almost all the vegetable matter had disappeared / ceased to be identifiable in the soil. And the worms!  Amazing! You can get the same impact by growing a green manure crop and then chopping/digging it on to the soil, but this method skips the growing part!

If you don't have a mulcher you could run over the garden waste (not weeds) with a lawnmower. The picture shows unmulched soil on the left, and mulched on the right - you can easily see the difference in moisture content.

Elsewhere in the garden - potatoes (kipfler) and tomatoes
 Comfrey and violas (for viola cream)
 Red Kale seed pods (for seed saving) and sugar snap and snow peas

Scarlet runner / seven year beans - no need to replant, they apparently DO go on for 7 years...or at least 2 so far in my case, and a pumpkin

 Cornflowers, and oca and yacon

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Rain. Again.

We had 88mm of rain between 5pm yesterday and 9am this morning. That is the single biggest 24hrs of rainfall here in 3 years. It brings our annual total to 1140mm. Yep, more than 1m of rain, and no we haven't moved to Queensland! This is 70% more than 2009,  and a whopping 108% more than 2008, and there is still 6 weeks of the year to go. 
Mad really. 
But "what has it done to the chart Dave?" ( with apologies to Dave Gorman's Important Astrological Experiement). I'm glad you asked........
Needless to say after refilling the small amount of water we've used since the last lot of rain the tank just overflowed.......

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Weekend kitchen capers

Yesterday was warm and sunny (hurrah!) so we spent most of the day tidying the strimming and tidying the garden. I also cleared out another garden bed (mostly broad beans) and ran them though the garden mulcher (after saving the beans, of course!). I put a few buckets of these scraps into the composter, and the rest I dug into the beds along with some "moo poo". A quick water, then covered the beds with mulch. these will rest for a few weeks before planting out. This strategy seems to be working a treat - I peeled back the mulch on a bed I did a few weeks ago to plant some more beetroot, and the worms were all over the place. The beds were still lovely and moist as well.

In the endless quest to use up all the lemons, I also made a batch of lemon jelly marmalade (basically lemon marmalade without the peel)- sadly it only took 11 lemons to make 11 jars!

Lemon Jelly Marmalade:

Thinly slice 1kg lemons (use a mandolin if you have one) and soak overnight in 2.4l of water. Next day put the lemon/water mix in a pan and simmer for 1.5 hours. Strain the liquid and return to the pan (discard lemon bits). Add 2.4 (!!!!!!) kg sugar, and stir until dissolved. Boil until setting point is reached, pour into sterilised jars and seal.
I also made Nigel Slater's blueberry and pear cake - but without the pear and blueberry and with brambleberries.

  • 130g softened butter
  • 130g sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 130g sifted plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon sifted baking powder
  • dash vanilla (optional)
  • berries or other fruit for the top
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin. Cream the butter and sugar, and then gradually add in eggs and the dash of vanilla if using. Stir in the flour and baking powder, and pour / spoon the batter into tin. Squish the berries (or any other fruit you fancy - apple and raspberry is lovely), into the top, and sprinkle with sugar if you like.  Bake for 55 minutes or until cooked through. Cool. Consume. Lovely.
 We will be having another slice tonight after our roast (local) lamb. Mmmmmmmmm more lovely
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