Sunday, March 29, 2009

Busy weekend

Another extremely busy weekend around the house, but not more than twenty minutes spent in the garden. The total time spent last week comes to about 2 hours 15 minutes. Well, we're on track now, aren't we?

- Cleaned out the chooks
- Collected some eggs
- A few moments here and there weeding & watering
- Bought two punnets to Parsley.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The last of the Honeydew

Usually when I tell people I grow honeydew in my garden, they look at me with a stern disbelief and disappointment that I'd let my moral fibers slip to the depths of lying. No! I honestly grow honeydew. Yes, in Sydney. People have such preconceived ideas about what you can grow, based on where the commercial producers grow it. Oh well, it makes for good conversation.

Being march, the plants are still hanging on - but it won't be long (probably a few weeks) before its all over for another year.

Honeydew are one of the big winners of my garden. They need little care, and really put out. While everything out of the garden does taste better because its fresh, I think the difference between shop-bought honeydew and home-grown isn't, say, as big as sweet corn. But when I've got a big space under my Citrus trees to fill, it is more than worth the effort spent.

The seed I've grown so far has come straight from the shop - in early spring we bought a few honeydew, and took seeds from ones we liked. I put a few in a propagator and let 'em go. If you've every grown cucumber or pumpkin before, its much the same here in every respect. I try not to water them in the evening (and to show for it, no powdery mildew this year...), and feed them some Seasol when I remember (Hey, I'm a busy person, ok?). Earlier in the season we had a few big ones (1.5 - 2kg melons), but as I became slacker in feeding them, we've ended up with a number of 1kg melons towards the end of the season.

This is ok; because I've found the smaller fruit are much more flavoursome than their larger brothers. In fact, the first year we grew honeydew was completely by accident - and the seedlings didn't come up until mid-February. Before the cold set in we only managed to get two tennis-ball sized honeydew, and I almost threw them out thinking there'd be no way they'd be worth eating. Well, I was happily wrong.

But back to the main point. I've honestly spent next to no time growing these delicious melons this year (I'd estimate all up, around 1, maybe 2 hours of time over 5-6months) - for what probably amounts to 12-15kg of fruit. And it cost me next to nothing. Winner!

And the whole family loves them!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

And what did I do this weekend?

Not much really.

Planted out some Broccoli & Kale seedlings I prepared earlier...
Sprayed a bit of water over all the seedlings...
Harvested some honeydew...
Cleaned out the chooks...
Pulled out the odd weed.

All in all, I reackon an hour of the first week has been spent, and duly noted.
We're on track.

The story so far...

For a bit more clarity to the ensuing journey, here's a little bit more about what we've already got.

Our house sits on 550 squares of slightly slopping land. We've got a set of retaining walls stepping down to the back of the house, and what you can see to the right is the extent of today's veggie patch. It roughly equates to about 12m square for vegetables, with some extra space a the end for some citrus trees (and whatever grows under it) . The chook shed sits in the back corner, home to my two assistant gardeners.

When we bought the property, all that was up the back here was an old treated-pine sandpit that had been turned into a small garden bed. The hope is that one day the wall will extend around to where I was standing to take this photo, and match up with the retaining wall just out of view on the left (which can be seen in the next photo). As you can see its also treated pine, which is an absolute travesty. In fact, all the retaining walls and garden beds on the property are (or were) treated pine. Nope, there's nothing quite like the taste of CCA in your carrots. Worse than that, its a band-aid as a retaining wall solution - with all that wet soil pushed up against it, theres only so much hard chemicals can do to save the situation. Its also annoying that a lot of the soil runs from behind it during a good downpour.

Needless to say we're going to replace these - eventually. In the future I see a good few fruit trees in this picture. A good solid retaining wall also needs some good drainage - which is all good water that can be collected to put back on the garden (instead of running uselessly in every direction, and taking the whole backyard with it).

Ultimately our aim is to replace as much of the property as possible with productive food-producing land, while leaving a nice lawn and entertainment area for the enjoyment, preparation & consumption of said food. I like the idea of creating one big working system, and I reackon that's not outside the realm of the possible on a small suburban block. We'll see. The lawn you see here will probably remain, as its unlikely I'll ever get approval to rip it up and put in garden beds (I dunno, something about kids one day needing a lawn or something). But most other areas are fair game - including the fron yard. I'll introduce these as they become necessary elements in the ongoing story.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

So, whats this all about anyway?

I've been thinking about it for a while. Weeks of deliberation have lead me to this point. And here I am.

So what AM I doing here, I hear you ask?

The story is rather simple. I live on an average-sized block of land in Sydney's southern suburbs, and you could say I have a bit of space to fill. I've always been interested in growing my own food, but never really got to try it until I owned my own plot. But it was the crappy vegetables you can buy in the stores these days that would ultimately serve as the tipping point.

But just what does this cost? Time and money are valuable commodities, and there just never seems to be enough. I've been working on my garden for almost two years now, and to be honest, I think on average, I haven't had more than three hours a week in my treasured dominion of green. Well, this is the theory I'm going to test, anyway.

For posterity, I'm going to try and keep track of the passing hours, the money spent and the rewards reaped. I'm going to break this into two major sections: Maintenance - weeding, sowing, planting, harvesting, problem solving... you know, all the regular stuff. And Major works - Improvements that aren't recurring. Hopefully this will give us all a better idea of just whats going on here.

Here goes...