Moving a bed, fixing a feeder & making some chips..

Posted June 30th, 2013 by Rob Bob : )»

Moving some beds & organising the front veggie patch...
Now that we have the hay bale beds set up & growing some food I have been inspired to do the rest of front garden.. So I am slowly building the beds that will make up our front veggie patch.. The first thing I work out when building a new garden is how the sun travels across the area.. The straw beds get a good amount of sun even during the shortest days but the garden behind the fence needed some extra thought put into plant selection & bed design..
Due to the height of the fence, the garden along it spends over ½ the day in shade during Winter.. On the up side, it will only receive ½ a day's worth of the scorching Summer sun.. I decided to take advantage of this by selecting plants that grow well in Summer & die back or are fully harvested during Winter.. The beds will be IBC wicking beds that sit ½ a meter above the natural ground level so the plants won't need to grow as far to reach the afternoon sun..
During the cooler months the beds can be planted out with brassicas & other crops that won't mind the shade too much.. The main Summer crops we have in mind for the beds along the fence are asparagus, yacon, ginger & turmeric..
The first 2 beds moved out there are our asparagus beds..
The soil in both of the beds is jam packed with compost worms so I know we have a decent soil to start with.. To help boost the fertility further & feed the worms, a bag of horse manure was added to each while they were being filled.. Because asparagus are heavy feeds 1L of a good organic based fertiliser (blood 'n' bone or dynamic lifter are both good for this job) was sprinkled into the soil to give the beds that added boost the asparagus love..
The crowns for the first bed came from wicking barrels we had been growing on the north side of the house..
As you can see they rather liked their wicking barrel homes & had some fantastic root growth, so think they will do just fine in this bed..
Of the 4 crowns, 2 were divided so a total of 6 were planted out in the end.. The soil in the beds will inevitably settle over the next month, so when it does I plan to top dress the bed with some semi composted horse manure.. This will not only act as a fertiliser for the Spring flush but as food for the thousands of worms seen squiring around in there..
I hope to have the rest of the beds set up before the end of Winter.. I need to get a move on & collect the IBCs needed to make them up.. Once they are all in place we will look at cladding them with some reclaimed pallet timber & smarten them up a bit..

Lowering the Living Greens chook feeder...
Just to bring you up to speed, a while ago a "Living Greens" feeder was made up for the chook pen & it has been a big hit with the girls.. Here is a bit of a look at how it was made & installed..

It is a great way to grow some inexpensive healthy greens for the girls, especially when they are unable to roam the yard for grass and weeds to feed on ..
I have noticed a bit of a flaw in the design after growing a few lots of greens in it, so decided to make some alterations.. The problem we were having was the greens needed to grow just under 20cm tall before they would poke through the cage for the chooks to peck at.. If the greens got wet or were blown over in a strong winds they didn't tend to stand back up which was no good for the chooks..
It was an easy job to trim 2 rows of the mesh off to bring it down to about 7½cm in height..
Not only will this mean that the greens have a better chance of staying upright but it also means that the time between sowing the greens & them being chook food will be reduced by a few days I think..
I saved some of the sprouted grain that went into the feeder for the girls so they could have a bit of a treat.. The sprouting process helps to make the stored nutrients in the seed more readily available for the girls.. I have started off another batch of wheat for them that should hopefully be ready by Wednesday & am looking into getting a few other grains to sprout for them as well..

Making up some snacks & spice...

Decided to make up some snacks for the weekend.. On Friday, Koo & I sliced up some sweet potato & a couple of yacon to go into the dehydrator to make some "chips".. A few fingers of turmeric were also added to load up the last tray..
The yacon & sweet potato were sliced about 2-3mm think with the turmeric being sliced as thinly as I could get it..
The turmeric (top) dried out really well so shall be running that through the food processor tomorrow to see how it turns out as a powder..
I am a huge fan of sweet potato chips (middle) & was really looking forward to munching on them tonight..To tell you the truth I was slightly disappointed as they turned out a tad bland & not as sweet as I thought they would.. Nothing special was done to the slices this time round, but I am thinking about giving some a quick coating of balsamic vinegar & salt, then popping them back in for a few hours tomorrow to see how they turn out..
The yacon (bottom) turned out a bit chewy like a fruit leather.. The flavour also changed slightly & now reminds me more of a medjool date.. I have some set aside to go back into the dehydrator tomorrow with the sweet potato to see if we can get them crunchier..

The weeks harvest...
The snow peas are still giving us a meals worth every other day along with the various cherry tomatoes that are growing in the compost heap in the front yard.. Decided to transplant the eggplant bush so picked all the fruit it had on it..
Some have already been used in a vegetable stir fry along with the cherry tomatoes, snow peas, basil & yacon.. I think the sweet taste of the yacon went really well in there against the tart tomatoes.. I was told today that another way to prepare yacon is to boil it for a minute or so, then fry it off with some oil in a frying pan.. Might be trying that some time this week..
The last of the water chestnuts were taken from the aquaponic system to make way for some broccoli seedlings.. None of these really grew to a usable size, I think, so they will be placed in a jar of water & stored in the fridge with the rest as "seed" stock for planting out in Spring..
The strawberries are also ripening up nicely at the moment..
I have managed to snaffle up about 10 during the week but Koo found this pair Friday afternoon :D»

Well I recovered from my jaw infection during the week only to do a jobbie on my sciatic nerve while moving the wicking beds out to the front yard.. Am taking it easy so hopefully I will have something to post about next week.. B is going to give my back a quick work over tonight so that should help relieve some of the pain..

Hope you all have a great one & get a chance to get some dirt under your nails..

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