Project Thoreau – December 2008 Update
I have further broken my mantra of not using chemical pesticides when I relented and started using snail baits in an effort to protect my pumpkin plants, which are finally starting to produce some pumpkins. To this point beer traps, oat bran and even more vigorous tidying of the garden have been less than successful in minimising the impact of slugs and snail. However I decided that I can accept the use of pellets given that the remainder of the garden is more or less adhering to organic and permaculture principles, and that the financial outlay was minimal. My compost bin is also recovering from its spraying for fruit fly, and worms are returning en masse once more to speed up the decomposition process. Overall I seem to have averted a fruit fly disaster, without having to revert to any serious control measures. Thanks to Boston for his simple and practical suggestion for controlling them. It will definitely be something I will put into practice if the need ever arises in the future. Also, if anyone else has any sure fire organic methods for controlling snails and slugs, I’d love to hear about them.
I have also successfully started harvesting potatoes from my patch. I made my own potato soup, and apart from the stock cube used to make the base, every single ingredient came from my garden. At this point, even such a humble achievement as this is a great source of pride. For me this is what permaculture is all about; fresh, healthy food without having to depend on, or participate in, the ‘system’ to obtain it. Every occasion in which I use my own produce in my cooking, no matter how small the quantity, is a step towards my independence and the achievement of my own ‘sovereignty’, so to speak. Now I just have to reach the point where I will be able to achieve this on a daily basis….
Project Thoreau – January / February 2009 Update
A happy and productive 2009 to you all. My new year started with my lovely neighbour burning the New Zealand Spinach that was encroaching on his yard. I don’t dispute his right to do so, except that he left all the other ‘undesirables’ that were entering his yard from other surrounding properties untouched. Perhaps he appreciated the soil decompacting and nutrient drawing abilities of ‘weeds’ more than the nutritional value of my NZ Spinach. Fortunately, my spinach survived the flaming encounter, and is continuing to provide a nice steady source of leaves. At least my other neigbour has not yet made an issue of the nice thicket of Vietnamese Mint that is entering her yard….
The weather over January at least was just brutal, with temperatures regularly exceeding 40 degrees Celsius for extended periods. As a result I quickly emptied my small tanks of their water, and had to revert to the outside mains tap to water the garden for the first time in well over a year. My efforts in the garden were also rather erratic over this period due to the extreme heat, but overall the garden held up remarkably well despite the periods of relative neglect. I still managed to obtain regular and meaningful supplies of NZ Spinach, silver beet, Vietnamese Mint, rocket, spring onion and chives. I have also been harvesting basil, potatoes, ocra, kankung and nice large sweet chillis on an occasional basis. The satisfying thing is that I am consuming something from my garden everyday at the moment.
I also harvested my first pumpkin, albeit a little earlier than I would have liked. The skin split badly due to the hot weather, and I did not want to run the risk of it rotting on the vine. I used half of it with some of my potatoes and spring onions to make some soup, which turned out to be a major success. It was brilliant served with pasta and topped with grated cheese and cracked pepper. I even managed to make enough to fill two extra containers which I then put in the freezer. Again, this might seem old hat to many people, but it is of great importance to me. I have since harvested one more pumpkin after the vine died off, and I have one more waiting to be picked. I plan to hold on to both of these for as long as possible before using them, as an experiment to see how long they can be succcessfully stored for.
Towards the end of February, the weather cooled off sufficiently to allow me to give the garden a thorough clean up in preparation for autumn sowing. Nice, well decomposed compost was mixed into the cleared patches of soil, and I’ve sorted out most of the seeds I intend to plant. Admittedly I bought some of them, but a fair proportion of the seeds were harvested from my own plants or retrieved from my own produce. Once again, as one can appreciate, this is another victory as it pretty well ensures a continual food supply in the future. In the coming weeks, I will progressively plant seeds with the hope that I will have a well established and regular supply of produce by the time winter rolls around.