New chooks & getting ready for a new seasons crops..

Posted March 3rd, 2013 by Rob Bob : )»

New chooks…
Last week we decided to boost our small "flock" with 2 more point of lay chooks..

These fine young ladies are Australorp x New Hampshire chooks.. The chap at the produce store told us that it depends on the breed of the farther as to what colour they will turn out.. Apparently if the father was a New Hampshire & mother an Australop they would of looked like our older ISA brown chooks.. We decided to get them as the others are starting to get a tad long in the beak with one, Chicken Little, deciding that she only wants to lay every other day at the moment.. The new girls haven't been welcomed with the warmest of greetings but are slowly starting to mingle with the older 2.. They are roosting on top of the feed drum at the moment but that will be changing as I intend to make a few adjustments to the layout of the shed.. Another nesting box will be added as well as some more walling to give them some privacy while laying.. The roof will also be re sealed as it started to leak during the recent storms.. I think it will be a few more weeks before they do start to lay so I have a bit of time to get it all done..

Getting ready to Plant out in the patch…

A few of the seedlings that were planted out 2 weeks ago are ready to go into the patch.. A few each of the cauliflower, kohlrabi & kale will be going into the hoop house for safe keeping away from the white cabbage butterfly.. The leftovers will be going out in the patch at large & will have small insect netting covers made to help protect them.. I am thinking about extending the hoop house to protect another bed but that is still in the planing stage..
To supplement these seedlings I also purchased some broccoli & rainbow chard seedlings to replace the seeds that failed to germinate.. Most of the broccoli will go into the hoophouse with the rest being scattered through the patch with the chard..

The tomato has also been tied up to make some space for the above mentioned brassica seedlings to be planted out.. Really wanted to get them into the garden today but think the beds need a bit more preparation first & I'm still not feeling then best.. I have been battling a sinus infection over the past week so think that they can wait until later in the week..

I also have some small eggplant & chilli seedlings that I am trying to establish before the cooler weather sets in.. Am only looking at 1 plant of each variety of chilli as we only plan for a few chillies every season.. The eggplant is a smaller egg sized variety that we are hoping to get to fruit from for our winter curries & stews..

I have also placed some garlic I saved from last season's crop in the fridge to try & "chill" it before planting it out in a week or so time..
Shall be planting these into a few barrels around the patch as I find they did better in barrels than in the beds themselves last year..
Planting Brassicas...
One trick I have learned to help grow tighter & fuller headed brassicas is that they love to be planted into nice firm soil.. I have read of some growers in the U.K using cricket pitch rollers to flatten & firm up the ground intended to be used as their brassica beds.. I firmed down the soil around a few plants last year with great success.. I intentionally didn't firm up the soil around a few broccoli & they did nowhere near as well as the other plants..
To prepare the planting area I will be,

  • Using my body weight to push down, with both hands spread flat, around where the plants will be planted.
  • A hole will be made to accommodate the length of the root up to the bottom of the first set of leaves. The handle of a hand fork or trowel make a good size hole for this.
  • The seedling will be planted into the hole & the soil gently firmed into place around the roots & stem.

Firming down the soil also provides a nice little depression for water to collect in while the plant gets established.. I am sure that you will see these plants grow into some very fine looking specimens by winter in upcoming walk around clips..

Garden updates…

We did have a bit of a scare over the past few weeks with the water in the aquaponics becoming increasingly cloudy.. It got to the point that we couldn't even see the bottom of the shallow sump tank because of the murky water.. The sediment looks to of settled & the water is starting to look nice & clear..

The fish never really lost their appetite so I think all is well there.. We have been picking greens from the system every few days so have no concerns about the nutriments being available to the plants..

Also put together a walk through clip earlier on in the week.. Even though we have had more than our share of rain here the garden is holding up fairly well I think..

Since the clip was made I have pruned the chilli & some capsicums in the hoop house..
Also started to pull the nematode infected carrots..
The few on the right look ok as baby carrots but a few on the left are most definitely too far gone I think :(» The beds will be getting a molasses treatment as soon as they dry out a bit in an attempt to rid them of the pests..

Harvest from the patch…
Didn't take many pictures this week but we have been picking quite a lot of salad greens from the aquaponic beds as well as snake beans & a few leaves of lettuce from the soil patch..
One disappointment was to find that a rat had gotten a taste for the capsicum :(»
It hooked into one of the ½ ripe chocolate capsicums.. I have set up a rat trap in the garden with the capsicum & some rice as bait in the trap bit still haven't caught it.. Will be making some peanut butter this week so will add that to the trap & see how it goes..

I did manage to save 1 fruit from the capsicum bush & also picked some black seeded snake bean pods to save the seeds from..
Have been very happy with the amount of seeds saved & will be harvesting the rest of the snake bean pods for the dinner table from now on..
The last pineapple of the season was also picked..
We haven't cut into this beauty yet as it is ripening on the bench but think it should be ready by tomorrow night.. Am hoping to get some seeds from this fruit as we got none from the last.. Really hanging out to try & grow one from seed.. The suckers/pups on the 2 plants should be removed & planted out sometime over the next few weeks hopefully..

That's about it for this week..
Have a great week in the patch & catch you next Saturday hopefully : )»

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