Sunday, August 30, 2009

Yon garden has a lean and hungry look

With apologies to Shakespeare, our garden has entered the lean and hungry period. This is the period when winter crops have run their race, and new season crops are yet to be planted and bear.

At the moment the vegetable garden consists of some cabbages, one broccoli plant that is still producing, rhubarb, leeks and fennel. We have garlic that won’t be picked until November. In the orchard we are coming to the end of our citrus. I’m buying most of our fruit and veg at the moment.

This is how we arrived at this state of affairs:

1. My tactical error in planting pumpkins in the main garden last summer. The pumpkins were taking up space I should have been using to plant spring veg.
2. The winter crops are nearly spent.
3.Anything planted after mid-May has done precisely nothing .
4.To top things off, the Woolly Jumper broke into the veg garden fences and ate all the silverbeet and lettuces that were growing.

Never mind. I’ve learned my lesson. Plus, we’ve fixed the fences.

The extremely warm August we have had has meant that our fruit trees are already flowering, so another season is just around the corner…..

Quince flower

Plum tree in flower

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Going Solar

In Australia, we love to bag our governments, and in New South Wales, we have more to bag our State government about than most. One positive thing they are party to, though, is the rebate programme available to householders who install solar hot water systems. This runs alongside the rebate programme that the Federal Government has.
We've been wanting to take advantage of these programmes for a while. Finally, we had a bit of time to arrange a rep to come and check out our system. Half and hour later, we've signed up to get our ageing hot water system replaced with a solar system.
The downside of the programme is the fact you have to stump up the not inconsiderable cash upfront. For us, this is something like $5000. Quite a sum, and one that I think would put a lot of people off. When we get the rebates back, however, the new hot water system will cost us something like $1200.
I asked the rep who visited us whether they were busy. He showed me the sheaf of cheques he had collected from appointments he'd had over the last two days. The programme is very popular. You have to wonder how long the governments, State and Federal, will support it.
So if you are in Australia, and in New South Wales in particular, and are thinking of going solar I would suggest doing it sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bordeaux mixture

So I've been on the chain gang the past few weeks. Finally, though I have a few days to do something other than eat, sleep and work. I haven’t done anything worth blogging about, and wouldn't have had time to blog about it if I did.
A few days’ grace from work has meant catching up with a few fairly urgent jobs around the place. Number one job has been to spray the fruit trees with Bordeaux mixture to prevent peach leaf curl.
You need to spray the fruit trees at bud swell. Normally I would expect to do this job about the beginning of September. However, it’s been so balmy around here recently that bud swell is happening now. If I left it til the weekend, I reckon I would have missed the boat. (On a tangent - all those tiresome climate change naysayers should get themselves a garden and notice the changes. It’s happening, people. It’s real).
I follow Peter Cundall’s instructions for Bordeaux mixture out of The Practical Australian Gardener. (Jackie French talks about Bordeaux mixture often in her books, but do you think I can find a recipe? It’s probably there somewhere, but the lack of indexes means I give up and look elsewhere)
So, if you have stone fruit trees, and need to spray, here’s what you do.

Bordeaux mixture

Dissolve 100g of copper sulphate in 3 litres of hot water in a non-metal container, and stir to dissolve. Leave for a few hours.

Dissolve 100g of hydrated lime in 3 litres of cool water. Stir for a few minutes to dissolve the lime as much as possible.

Pour the copper sulphate into the “milk of lime” (the solution certainly looks milky) and stir for a few minutes. Pour into your sprayer and top with water to make 10 litres of solution.
Spray on stone fruit trees. We also spray it on the grape vines.
You need to use this solution pretty much straight away so don’t make it up ahead of time to use later. It won’t work.
Lastly, a photo of our newest lamb, born to the sheep we call the Woolly Jumper (she is the Houdini of sheep. She is the only sheep who has figured out how to get out of the temporary paddocks we have around the place).
This little girl is the Woolly Jumper's first lamb, and honestly, she doesn't have a clue about mothering. The poor little thing is lucky to feed for 10 seconds at a time before WJ decides she's had enough and walks off with a slightly desperate lamb after her. Still, despite this, the lamb is doing reasonably well, so she have become a highly efficient feeder.