Friday, 19 December 2014

What does it really mean?

What can I say except that was a long 4 months. What am I talking about I hear you ask?  ... well I just won the "Yates" 2014 Garden Vegetable Growing Competition. That's right Whoohoo being a winner is much more fun than being a loser.

The competition began in September and consisted of starting all plants from seed and then blogging about the journey, the problems faced, the failures and success.  2272 garden competitors from around Australia joined in.

I am thankful that Yates allowed me to be part of their competition and it certainly was a lot of fun. Blogging each day about what was happening.

Seeing all the different gardens and the many ways people grow food was interesting. This is a link to the blogs I wrote on the Yates website

First prize was an assortment of products and vouchers, some of which I can use but sadly most I cannot. You see, my garden is organic. Everything that grows in my garden is balanced, from the native lizards to the beautiful burrowing banjo frog which frighten the crappola out of me every time I encountered one in the potato patch ... never knew a potato could wiggle ... never knew I could scream so loud either but that's a story for another time.

I'll keep the book, gloves, Chili pot, vouchers and seeds but all the rest I've given away. I don't use any of that stuff on my garden. I have no need for it. I don't mind if others want to use it. But for me I am not interested. I knew when I entered that the First Prize was a mixture of their products and money vouchers so I was not surprised when it arrived. ..... what did surprise me was my private thoughts as I looked at these objects ....  We live in a world were pouring synthetic fertilisers, fungicides, pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides is considered normal. That its not possible to grow a garden without this stuff. We are told that if the plant has aphids we must kill them immediately ... and yet aphids are food for lady beetles, they are food for many native birds, they are part of a food chain that is vital to the existence of all life on earth. We are connected and if we choose to ignore that fact then we do so at our own peril.

The soils in our garden have been carefully manage to produce a bounty of fresh vegetables. Each year the earth repay us for our care and consideration. I take none of it for granted. I know I am blessed to have the knowledge and the skills required to grow and harvest huge
amounts of produce and yet at the same time be able to protect and encourage the native flora and fauna that is major part of my vegetable garden.

To me all life is precious no matter what it is ... could be snail going about his business ...  could be a stick insect .. it  doesn't matter  .... all the critters have a place in my garden  ... even if they eat some of my vegetables  ... so what ... they will end up being food for something else any way ... the snail becomes the dinner for the lizard, the beetle becomes the dinner for the frog, the frog becomes dinner for the Hawk. Maybe I'm strange who knows ... but what I do know is this .... without nature we are nothing.

Monday, 1 December 2014

How to grow Beans, Beans the musical fruit ....

Hi ya! .... Been picking beans .. say THAT three times really fast *beenpickingbeans,beenpickingbeans,beanpickingbeans*

ok, enough silliness now for some serious info about all things bean ... We had a MASSIVE thunder storm last night  … EEEEKK!!! Scary!  and when I finally removed myself from inside the doona this morning and gingerly ventured outside to check the garden for damage I discovered, to my delight, that the beans plants had started producing  baby beans ... *yay* .... aawww …. so cute! … so green!!
The temptation to pick them now is almost impossible to resist but resist I must because they are not quite ready to be eaten …. A few more days and then into the steamer they will go to become a nice side dish for my tasty dinner. 
Beans are easy to grow and today I will share with you a few tips on how to grow them so YOU TOO can experience the fun of “growing your own food” and eating it (that’s the best part) . The secret to growing any food is to make sure that you get constant growth … too slow and the plants become hard and woody ….  too fast and the plants become sappy  and get attacked by sap suckers and nobody wants that do they!? …  no, no, no, sap suckers are not fun …  neither are unwanted house guests but that’s  a story for another time.
Beans, like all vegetables, need  well fertilised soil to grow in (mulch isn't a fertiliser). In our garden we use lots of animal manures such as cow / sheep or goat poo plus chicken manure from the hen house which we put on the beds during winter when the beds are empty.
If you don't have access to animal manure (use grass-fed if possible) then you can always use what's known as a "Complete Fertiliser" from the shops. There is a VERY IMPORTANT reason why I say "Complete Fertiliser" .... it gives the plants the nutrients they need without "locking up" the soil. "Nutrient Lock Up" is not good for plant or the soil. This is a link to some great info about soils etc if any of you want to know more .... Soil Quality Fact Sheet
The beans I've got growing at the moment are a variety of Dwarf Bean called "Tendergreen". I've not grown this variety before so will be interesting to see how they taste.
When to grow: Spring and Summer (Can be grown all year round in warmer climates)
Harvest: 8 to 10 weeks
Plant: after all chance of frost has passed. Water well during dry periods
Position: Full sun
Storage: Wash, drain and store in vented plastic bag in fridge. Use fresh soon after harvest or blanche & freeze if wanting to keep for longer periods of time.
Cook: Steam or boil. May be lightly tossed in butter to glaze. Do not over cook.
No support is necessary as they are a dwarf variety of bean and are able to stand up on their own unlike climbing beans which need a trellis or fence to grow upon.
Companion Planting: Beans Like Carrots, Cucumbers, Cabbages, Lettuce, Peas, Parsley, Cauliflower, and Spinach ... Beans Dislike: Onions, Garlic, and Fennel.
** Personally I don't do "Companion Planting" as I prefer each plant to have the necessary space to do its own thing .... One year I grew carrots, onions and lettuce all together in the same bed because I was told they were "good companions" .... it was nothing but a pain in the bum because when it came time to harvest the carrots I was inadvertently removing some onions at the same time which weren't ready and so I got the shites about it ..... I don't grow like that anymore .... it frustrated me so much that now I grow my onions in one bed and my carrots in another with out any problems  **
You can plant beans either directly into the beds or you can start them off in dunny rolls or small containers and wait for them to sprout and then transplant as seedlings into the garden. I always start my beans of in dunny rolls and then transplant later but that's because I live in a cold climate and so try to extend the growing season by starting the seed early and letting them sit out on the veranda in a warm spot for about a month.  

Woolly work space

This is a photo of my little work space where I make the different crochet & knitted toys. I find it incredibly relaxing and no two to...