A well designed, established permaculture garden can keep producing with amazingly little time or energy spent on it. Which is just as well, because mine has had amazingly little time or energy over the last season. If not for the fact that I now have a A Garden With Stamina, I wouldn’t have a garden at all!
As it is though, the chooks continue their weeding and soil preparation even when all I have time to do is chuck a bucket of house scraps over the fence each day, and the occasional bucket of wood ash from the stove, and a bit of azolla from my morning walk, and the occasional bag of horse poo that a neighbour sells on the side of the road on my way home and…you get the idea. Once patterns are established, they take just seconds of actual work, and no thinking at all.
But with the slightly longer days already, I’m getting a few extra minutes in the day, and it’s amazing what you can do in just a few minutes. Last weekend I moved the chooks, and yesterday I had a few minutes to I clean out and prepare a seed raising box in the shadehouse, and my garden is on a roll again.
I use poystyrene boxes salvaged from the greengrocer for germinating seed. I find that punnets and pots are too vulnerable to drying out. They are filled with a mixture that is mostly river sand – or fine gravel – mixed with some old compost or mowed, old cow pats. The latter is for the texture, not the nutrients. Seeds don’t need fertilising to germinate. (Whenever you sprout sprouts using just water, you are proving it.)
As soon as the seedlings are up and have their first pair of true leaves, I prick them out with a kitchen fork and transplant into pots with a nice lot of compost and worm castings and seaweed brew, until they are big enough to plant out into the garden. So the seed raising mix can be used over and over, and a box lasts all year. My last box got abandonned when life got hectic, and was sitting there with overgrown, unwatered seedlings left over from months ago, but it took just minutes to get it ready for replanting.
This morning I had a few minutes before work again, so I planted the spring round of leafy greens. Spring is not the perfect season for leafies, especially when it looks a bit like an El Nino is shaping up again and we are in for a long hot summer. Leafies all want to bolt to seed this time of year, and pests like cabbage moths and aphids get busy. There’s no point in me planting silver beet or spinach this time of year, but amaranth does well as a spring and summer leafy, and this year I’m trying a couple of other spinach substitutes – Egyptian spinach, and Orach. I’d love to hear from anyone who has experience with them.
I’m also planting a few varieties of lettuce that do well for me in warmer weather – brown romaine, rouge d’hiver, and 2 star. Rouge d’hiver is supposed to be a cool weather variety, but it is doing well for me in spring planting. I’m planting another round of raddicchio, though it’s a bit risky this time of year. And basil, lots of basil – lime, sweet and Thai varieties. And Italian parsley for tabouli.
I have amaranth and aragula (wild rocket) and dill and coriander all self seeded in the garden, and I’ve planted a patch of rocket as direct planting – something I don’t do often, but they should be ready to cut as baby rocket in about a fortnight, and I only plan to keep them going for a few weeks.
Next week is the fruiting planting break, so as I get time over the next few days I shall get pots ready for beans and zucchini and squash and cucumbers and tomatoes and capsicums and eggplants and chili and pumpkins and melons. I so love these longer days!