Archive for the ‘Backyard Farming’ Category

This past Summer (Yup it’s Autumn already) I finally got around to growing some plants which I failed in previous years to cultivate properly, namely Okra and Aubergine (Eggplant / Brinjal).

I will however, have to stop experimenting too much with germinating times! While I have had good success starting sun loving annual veg’s and fruits as early indoors as Late January, this last Spring with the very last minute April shock frost took out more than half of my pre-germinated seedling stock and severely damaged at least 30% of the remaining half! From now on, I think it’s safe to commit perhaps 20% of all planned varieties / species to early sowings which can be sacrificial in the case of more late frosts.

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The Beatuiful Okra Flowers in Mid Spring

Out of 4-5 Okra plants, I managed about the same amount of fingers! I attribute this to worrying too much about cold as well as pest damage and got around to planting them far too late, But the flowers are awesome!

On another note, I promised myself that this is ‘The Year Of The Salads’ and in the below photo, you can see how easy it is to find random suitable spaces to squeeze them in around your garden or plot, please stop regimentalising yourself thinking everything has to be monocultured in rows … NATURE DOES NOT WORK LIKE THAT!        Rant over 🙂

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‘Jack ice – Crisphead” Lettuce at the base of Pepper Plants

Lettuce are shallow rooted and short seasoned from germination to harvest, hence why greens (cooking, salads etc.) do outweigh heavier crops such as maize, tomatoes etc. in yield due to the amount of plants you can successionally grow in one space during the full season (There are winter Lettuces and other greens like Kale which overwinter – but no Maize, Pumpkins, Tomatoes etc etc.). Being shallow rooted, they need less nutrients compared to the heavier croppers so can be grown at the base of other plants as well (Pay attention though to Companion Planting Guides).

Soon I will post about Aubergine success and tips I got from side-shooting which seemed to increase yield! I got these tips from the awesome Charles Dowding, I do recommend to get a book or two of his if you are interested in growing your own vegetables! From a person who has around 34 years growing organically in no dig systems, you would not be making a bad move in following his tips and advice in my opinion …

 

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I a finding myself unable to store any more Courgettes (Known in other countries as: Zucchini and even Baby Marrows). My fridge is FULL!
Everytime I either go into my garden or visit my allotment (every 2-3 days at this time of year), I am bringng in at least two decent sized Courgettes.

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Courgette (Zucchini) Cake Loaf

I am re-sharing an old recipe I added a while ago, this is the right time of the season to share this as most people are starting to wonder what else they can do with them …

Click here for an older post for the Courgette Loaf (more like a cake due to the higher sugar content). These are definitely great Healthy Alternatves in place of the everyday cakes we scoff down on a regular basis, the courgette gratings really moisten up the mix very well and make this a delicious tea time / coffee break snack.

Coming up and to look out for: Elderflower Wine Recipe, Elderberry Cordials and Syrups etc.

Today I noticed some fairly mature Elderberries around, with ofcourse, the wood pigeons hanging almost unpside down in a bat like pose, so get out soon and bet a batch, even if just to freeze for the meantime.

I am situated within the London microclimate and so, I think this is assurity thatthe Elderberries I have are ripening a few weeks earlier than in othe parts not only in England but other parts of the Northern Hemisphere …

Elderflower

Anyway, I have a few recipes coming up soon so pick, freeze etc. to keep them longer …

I just came across this interview on Alchemy Radio (An online alternative podcast / show) a couple of days ago, Dr. Wayne has good plans and future transition options for a better future for worldwide society.

alchemy

Dr. Wayne speacks about various subjects such as water retention / sustainable regeneration, aquaponics, land regeneration, Permaculture, Free courses online etc.

Find the interview Here: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/alchemyradio/episodes/2017-04-27T10_54_41-07_00

 

 

Some of you may have heard a few people making the statement: ”I am a no dig / no till gardener” what they meant about that is that they do not follow the standard of turning or rotavating their soil every year especially in the Winter.

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Woodchip Soil Amending – year 1 and 2 onwards

No Dig gardeners do a little bit of digging, but only what is necessary such as digging a hole to place a plant in it’s final outdoor location. They Do Not however, systematically dig / till the soil every year.
One of the arguments used to justify this ficticious practice is that they are bringing up nutrients which are / have leeched deep down.
Gardeners the country over, including very experienced people on Allotments have no actual clue about the sub surface bacteria and how they are exposing these beneficial organisms to the elements and also burying them too deep which kills them off!
In permaculture we call it the Soil Food Web and it comprises the entire system from soil microbes, to fungi mycelium, the plants, moisture, decomposing matter etc…

Nature does the work for us, we just need to learn to observe and only intervene by taking advantage of the observed clues, one good example is with the Austrian Farmer Sepp Holzer, he noticed as a boy that Strawberries grow much better and produce larger / jucier fruit when stones were placed beside the plants, he also noticed how White Clover also helped (Nitrogen Fixer).

The below image describes a better understanding of exactly how the different organisms in the ‘Soil Food Web’ play their roles which interact with other organisms in the system:

soil food web

If for example, you buy a house or start a garden somewhere and you find that the soil is heavy clay, you will of course need to dig and place soil amendments (preferrably natural) in the first year on a once off occasion, thereafter only an annual surface layer of mulch is needed to feed the system with fresh compostable material, nature literlaly does the rest and after a longer period of time you will have a very healthy soil system on that particular patch of land.

So, a few bags of clean sharp sand to help break up the clay, perhaps a few bags of compost and I would say as much woodchip as can be obtained, these materials should be worked into the soil up to the depth of perhaps of one spade blade. If your woodchip is fresh, you should not grow anything in this soil for at least a year, so this year you could at least use the space to host a row of pots which will hold plants for this one season, next year you will grow directly in the ground.

Rotovating or working the soil every year destroys the food web and basically resets it everytime, in the case of using a rotovator on heavy clay, the blades actually compact the ground under the bed being prepared and pretty much can cause this layer to become a water barrier, this I have seen first hand and the plot in question was always flooded at certain times of the year … In my whole opinion, using a rotovator is only necessary in the first year of soil amandment.

If you have a perennial weed problem (weeds which die down in winter and re-sprout from sub surface root networks in spring) you can use sheet mulch (aka lasagna mulch) after your soil amendment is added and then your final layer of the woodchip or mulch layer of your choice.

I challenge any skeptics to do a control experiment where they dedicate half of their beds to a no dig with mulch method and see the difference year after year …

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Looking at my ”Country Stat’s” on this blog, it looks like the Philippines is going to take the lead ahead of Australia this month in views (Australia seems to always be third in my stats right after UK and USA who always both dominate 1st and 2nd place), I’m not entirely sure why they suddenly seem to be searching for Permaculture or finding my blog in particular (Perhaps it is my previous article on GM Rice?) but I have decided to dedicate an article based on Organic and Permaculture projects that I have seen there. I have previously searched for either a Permaculture Farm / Forest Garden or Tour video to include the country in my long list of ”Videos and Tours”. I just never got around to sharing or writing an article so, here we have a few videos to view for any Filipino’s looking to self educate and then be able to try grow healthy food  for themselves and family / community.

So, Salamat for Stopping By, here are a few videos, Some are in Tagalog and I think the one in Bohol is in Bisaya with some English thrown in by the video uploader and some of his friends, enjoy:

Video 1: Urban Agriculture Philippines – (15 mins), container growing, aquaponics, rabbits etc.in an Urban setting (Tagalog)

Video 2: Maribojoc Organic Demo Farm Bohol pt1 (After Watching Part 1, the other parts will be available to watch on the side suggestion bar on youtube) – Entrance to this Demonstration Farm is PHP30 per person! That’s Cheap considering what you will learn …

https://youtu.be/X4AMG6P9qww

Video 3: 1 Project Freedom, a Permaculture Demonstration Site, Tublay, Benguet, Philippines (It will be interesting to learn from them if one can take the time out to go on a tour and visit the site)

Please remember, this is an active blog where you Do Not need an account to be able to use my comments section, anyone can comment selecting ”post as Guest”, please comment and get communicating with me and others, Permaculture is also about community and learning 🙂

Further Reading / Educational = Previous Article: How to build a Banana Circle to increase crop flavour, nutrition and yield!

 

This is a good video tour of a Four year old food forest, I would say this is a definite watch for anyone who needs a better understanding of a food forest system and what it entails. The video owner has many such like videos showcasing his project’s entire history (journey).

Video: (4Year Old Food Forest, Bay Area California USA) [19 Min’s]

https://youtu.be/L5RfruUjL1w

Further Reading / Articles about Food Forests:

Previous Post / Article on a 20 Year old Mature medicinal Food Forest

Previous Post -Video Tour of a Front Garden Food Forest in Denver USA