Well it doesn’t feel like the weather is cooling just yet but it’s time to start thinking about those cool weather crops. Think broad beans, broccoli and cauliflower. That’s what I think. But I won’t be putting these into the soil just yet. Right now I think it’s time to pull out those summer crops that are finished, beef up the soil with a new layer of compost. Cover that with a nice layer of mulch and get those seeds into the greenhouse (or seed raising area) so they are ready to go in after Easter. Surely it will cool down by then?
If you are keen to get planting then probably best to stick to the all year-ers like carrots, greens and herbs until we start to regularly drop below 30.
What’s your favourite cool weather crop and when do you think you’ll start planting?
Feel like growing your own this spring?
Having just built another of these recycled hardwood raised beds I’m in the mood for building more.
So this month I’m offering anyone in the Sydney metro area one of these beds for $650. This price includes lining and filling the beds plus planting with a selection of leafy greens and herbs.
The beds are four palings high (about 40cms) and can be made to measure providing they are not longer than 3.6m. They are free draining and open to the ground but can be made into wicking beds (like big self watering pots) for an extra $100. They can also be made higher but this will fall outside of our current special and will require individual pricing.
Feel free to give me a call with any questions or if you’d like to book a bed in. Cheers, Sarah (0418 464 323)
I spend half of my working week helping children to grow food in school gardens and the most of my non (paid) working life trying to think of healthy meals my children will eat. Most of my work with school children is via the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation. This is a fantastic program with flexible models to suit all schools. Teachers are given training and curriculum support and kids are exposed to the joys of gardening and cooking while trying new foods they’ve had a hand in growing. I joined the program for environmental reasons not convinced it would really change eating habits. After a few years of being involved I have become convinced that getting your kids involved in the growing and cooking of food is a great way to ensure they remain interested and engaged with their nutritional health not to mention that ever increasing importance of knowing where your food comes from.
But what about at home? And what if you have fussy eaters in the house who aren’t old enough for school or not at a school with a kitchen garden program? I, like lots of others, have one (or two) of those children who aren’t particularly interested in eating vegetables or trying new things. I did the growing thing. We grew peas. He planted the peas, watched them grow, then watched me eat them. Legumes aren’t his thing I discovered.
But we persisted and found other things to grow that he will eat (he still grows legumes just doesn’t eat them). But the growing alone wasn’t enough to change his eating habits. What really made a difference was group eating. And by that I don’t mean eating with the family. I mean sitting down with a big group of children and watching everyone else enjoying food. This, I find, to be the best place to introduce new foods to my children. Around a camp fire with a few other families or at friend’s houses seem to be the places my difficult eater finds trying new things easier.
So for your fussy eater at home, what can you do?
- Grow – start small, a few herbs and a strawberry plant
- Cook – get your kids involved in planning, shopping and preparing
- Share – make eating a social event
On a side note, taking the pictures for this blog post and checking on our seedlings at the same time my 4 year old saw me taste a new radish leaf and asked for a try. He then asked for another while proclaiming how much he liked it! (He’s not my fussy eater but still, it was a radish leaf?!)
This is the story of one of our first clients who I’d like to name (they have great names) but won’t because I’m not sure what the rules are on that. This couple live in a small but well appointed apartment with a surrounding courtyard garden. They are on the main road but when you’re inside you hardly notice.
We first came to their garden after it was newly built and planted. There wasn’t a lot of thought put into the garden and as we dug and restructured it we found the soil was mostly made up of builder’s rubbish. We put a lot of time and they put a fair bit of money, into that initial work but it’s paid off in a beautifully giving and changing garden.
While mostly planted with flowering natives we also included a number of edible plants and these have slowly increased over the years. They pick from the garden every day and this is the reason for my story. The gentleman of the couple, in all his years, had never picked and eaten from his own garden until we reshaped and planted this new garden for him. For him (and for me), this was a great experience and one they, and I, continue to enjoy.
This week we built a herb spiral at CECAL (Canterbury Earlwood Caring Community Centre) as the start of turning their front area into a community garden. The herb spiral is a small example of a lot of good permaculture ideas in one place. It uses space and water efficiently and creates micro climates for your different herbs. Traditionally the herb spiral is placed close to your kitchen door so that you can nip out and grab your favourite herbs. In Earlwood we placed it as close as we practically could to the kitchen but when you’re working in limited and confined spaces these decisions also become limited.
This is how we did it:
The area is first measured out with a couple of sticks joined by a bit of string. One stick stays firm in the ground, the other moves around the circle. We played with a few different sizes thinking about access (both to the herb spiral and past it) and the number of bricks we had. We then leveled the soil a little and laid a thick layer of newspaper to inhibit any weeds.
On top of the newspaper we threw on wood chip. A lot of websites suggest gravel for drainage but I wasn’t keen to add stones to the soil, a hard thing to reverse, so we used woodchip. The bricks are then laid around in a spiral pattern with the soil added in to help with stability. We used a mixture of soils and manure.
It probably would have been wise to water in each layer as we went but this was a step we missed. On top of the soil we put in mulch and there you have it. A herb spiral ready for planting.
In terms of planting the idea is to plant sun loving plants on the northern side and shade tolerant plants on the southern. Water loving plants go toward the bottom and plants that can take drier conditions are planted towards the top.
All your herbs in one spot. The magic of permaculture design.